Empowering economically-challenged schools to compete with privileged counterparts 

Technical Manager, Nigeria Projects Organisation Unit, ExxonMobil, Dr. Adetunji Obawole, commissioning the e-learning centre donated to St. John’s Grammar School, Ile-Ife, Osun State. He is flanked by the Contract Administrator, Erha North Phase 2, of the firm, Mr. Wale Bishi, and some officials of the school ... recently.

Technical Manager, Nigeria Projects Organisation Unit, ExxonMobil, Dr. Adetunji Obawole, commissioning the e-learning centre donated to St. John’s Grammar School, Ile-Ife, Osun State. He is flanked by the Contract Administrator, Erha North Phase 2, of the firm, Mr. Wale Bishi, and some officials of the school … recently.

ExxonMobil, partners invest N2b in education through CAPS

The world over, the importance of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), cannot be over-emphasised, in view of the fact that therein lies the key to unlocking a country’s technological advancement.

While nations are spending a fortune to equip their schools to enable them keep pace with their peers, Nigeria has succeeded majorly in paying lip service in this direction. The result is obvious-Many state-owned schools are without qualified teachers, vital resource centres as well teaching aides. In the seed of time, the consequences of this are dire both for the students and the country.

Concerned by the implication of this to the nation in the long run, and buoyed by the need to stimulate students’ interest, curiosity, and desire to explore the world they live in; and to provide them with opportunities to learn, understand, and apply the scientific, mathematical and technological skills they have acquired during the course of their learning, as well as to encourage the acquisition of important research skills using a wide variety of resources including books and hands–on materials, a firm has so far sunk in N2b to support education in the country.

Exxonmobil subsidiary, Esso Exploration and Production Nigeria Limited (EEPNL), in production sharing contract with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and its co-venturer on the Erha North Phase 2 Project, invested this sum through the Community Assistance Programme (CAPS) of the project.

The CAP programme, which spanned 17 states and the Federal Capital Territory, involves several initiatives to improve the lot of education at various levels, especially in the area of STEM.

Key among these are 12 e-learning centres donated to beneficiary schools, to boost e-learning and Information Communication Technology (ICT) knowledge, particularly at the grassroots. Most of the selected schools are located in economically challenged neighborhoods and rural communities.

While three e-learning centres were donated under the CAPS for the EPC 3 phase of the programme, nine e-learning facilities built under the EPC 1 phase of the project were recently donated to schools in Rivers, Osun and Anambra States, in furtherance of the company’s quest to impart computing and e-literacy skills to children from a very early age so as to prepare them for today’s competitive information technology-driven world.

According to the company’s General Manager, Public & Government Affairs, Mr. Paul Arinze, early exposure of children to information and communication technology, place them on the right platform to compete with their peers anywhere in the world and its importance cannot be over-emphasised.

The nine schools that benefitted from the recent donation of e-learning centres include St. John’s Grammar School, Ile-Ife; Ife Anglican Grammar School, Ile-Ife; Olode Grammar School, Olode; Anekwe Memorial Primary School, Abatete, Ado Girls Secondary School, Onitsha; All Saints Primary School, Onitsha; Onne Community Secondary School, Onne; Kalabari National College, Buguma, and Community Primary School, Egendem.

Each e-learning centre is equipped with 21 desktop computers, Electronic Learning Management System (ELMS) with audio-visuals across a wide range of topics for pre-tertiary education, three-year Internet service support and renewable power via inverter (24-hour back-up power).

In addition, each of the e-learning centre locations were extensively renovated, while the teachers were given extensive train-the-trainer instruction on ICT to enable them successfully impart knowledge into their pupils.

The e-learning centres are based on the latest ICT infrastructure and curriculum for children, including coding for kids, experiential learning modules, 30 educational software and other e-learning aids.

Last year, ExxonMobil and its partners on the project donated e-learning facilities to three primary schools in Lagos State. They are Awoyaya Primary School, Victoria Island; Ansar-Ur-Deen Primary School, Ebute Metta, and Obalende Primary School, Ikoyi, under the EPC 3 Phase of the Erha North Phase 2 CAPS.

By locating these e-learning centres in schools in rural communities and economically-challenged neighborhoods, the oil servicing firm and its partners aim to help children in such communities be on an equal competitive footing with their more privileged counterparts, and empower them to contribute meaningfully to the Nigerian economy in due course.

As part of their commitment to supporting STEM at the secondary level, the partnership on the project also donated 22 science library modules to secondary schools in some states. Each of the science library module contains 250 books on a diverse range of science-based topics, with the aim being to improve students’ performance in these science-based disciplines and encourage them to eventually pursue STEM-related professional careers.

Under the EPC 2 phase of the CAP, ExxonMobil and its partners invested $6m (N1.8b) capacity building, specifically in training 132 Nigerian youths in various areas of technical operations for the oil and gas industry including management, engineering, procurement, fabrication/assembly, testing, offshore installation and pre-commissioning.

The training was structured to enhance the acquisition of both relevant theoretical knowledge and the development of competency through project exposure and experience in all specific technical disciplines thereby equipping them with the requisite skills to help them gain employment in the oil and gas industry.

After the capacity building training, Anambra State Governor, Willie Obiano, was full of praises for ExxonMobil and its partners for their social investment in the state through the programme.

Represented at the closing ceremony in Abatete, by the State Commissioner of Science and Technology, Dr. Chinedu Emeka, Obiano urged benefitting youths to utilise the skills gained in building successful businesses and training other youths.

Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, who played host to the ExxonMobil team, prior to the commissioning of projects in Ile-Ife, thanked ExxonMobil and its project partners for the projects donated to the Ife Community.

While commending them and lauding the impact of their Community Assistance Project, he urged other corporate organisations to emulate such gestures for the overall improvement of the Nigerian society.

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