• Wednesday, April 24, 2024
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Seplat’s teacher upskilling programme offers national model

Seplat’s teacher upskilling programme offers efficient national model

For Nigeria to achieve a sustainable educational system that produces graduates with the requisite skills to tackle challenges with its economy, some experts say more attention would need to be paid to teacher training.

One proven effective model is Seplat Energy’s Teachers’ Empowerment Programme (STEP), which offers sure avenues to curbing skill-matched challenges beclouding graduates.

Seplat Energy recently completed its STEP initiative in Benin City, Edo State capital, underscoring the company’s commitment to sustainable development and education in Nigeria.

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The programme which focused on empowering teachers aligns with the vital role of the education workforce in nation-building.

Going by the philosophy of John Adams, “A teacher is a maker of man.” Hence, teachers form the foundation of education and civilisation, both for the present and future.

This is why Nigeria needs Seplat Energy’s STEP initiative across the country, especially in today’s ever-changing world where education has become a requisite factor for the progress of nations.

The Nigerian education system is so worrisome that the lack of funding and other concomitant challenges has crippled the learning ecosystem leaving it with no choice but to produce half-baked graduates who in turn become quacks in their profession.

According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) recommendation, Nigeria should allocate between 15 percent to 20 percent of its annual budget to the education sector.

An analysis of the 2024 education budget indicates that the government has allocated N2.18 trillion, constituting only 7.85 percent of the total N27.5 trillion budget for the fiscal year.

This assessment highlights a deviation from the federal government’s commitment to increase the education budget to 25 percent by 2024. Such an increase would have been instrumental in aligning with global standards, enhancing the quality of learning, and retaining the best hands within the education system.

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SDG Goal 4

UNESCO’s data in collaboration with the Global Education and Monitoring Report, reveals a staggering statistic: Nigeria’s out-of-school children now number 20.2 million, a stark contrast to the long-standing figure of 10.5 million.

UNICEF further underscores the gravity of the situation, reporting that one in three Nigerian children is deprived of education, amounting to 10.2 million at the primary level and 8.1 million at the junior secondary level.

Alarmingly, one out of every five out-of-school children globally resides in Nigeria.

Additionally, as stated by the United Nations, delivering on Sustainability Development Goal 4 (SDG4) which focuses on quality education, necessitates making education financing a national investment priority.

Furthermore, measures such as making education free and compulsory, increasing the number of teachers, improving basic school infrastructure, and embracing digital transformation are essential.

Knowledge and education are key factors in the full and effective participation of youth in the process of social, economic, and political development.

The Seplat summit which has been on since 2019 serves as the culmination of a transformative educational experience for teachers in both Edo and Delta States.

Chioma Afe, director of external affairs and sustainability at Seplat Energy in her speech during the just concluded event reechoed the need for proper funding of education in Nigeria when she said; “At the foundation of the education value chain lies primary and secondary education, which is crucial for laying the groundwork for future learning.

However, access to quality early education, especially in rural areas, remains a challenge. This affects children’s ability to proceed to higher education or enter the workforce.”

In addition, she said; “Addressing challenges within the education value chain is crucial for workforce development and socioeconomic growth in Nigeria.

Our collective efforts are vital in building a skilled and productive workforce that can drive the nation’s growth and development in the years to come.”

Similarly, Sam Ezugworie, the chief operating officer at Seplat, shed light on the current state of education in Nigeria, “The country’s education system today is not where it should be, and we understand its pivotal role in development. If the youths of this country are not developed, then, there’s a problem.

“Looking at it from an economic standpoint, especially for those who can afford it, sending children abroad for education highlights our failure as a generation.

“This results in millions of dollars leaving the country annually to pay for children’s school fees abroad. Before leaving the university in the late ’80s, we used to have foreign lecturers and students coming to Nigeria, but today, the situation has reversed.”

For Nigeria to rebirth the 1980s as cited by Ezugworie, the governments need to collaborate with corporate organisations such as Seplat Energy, and going by that, STEP initiative can be nationalised.

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Since its launch in 2019, Seplat has successfully trained and certified over 1,300 teachers in STEAM subjects across Edo and Delta states. The energy company remains committed to fostering the growth of its STEP CSR initiative.

Akin-Olusoji Akinyele, the group managing director at NewGlobe highlighted the need for an improved education system which according to him would accelerate the growth in GDP each year by 0.5percent at the minimum.

“Transforming the education workforce requires a holistic and collaborative approach, adding that it is a complex and multifaceted process that involves various stakeholders, strategic planning, and sustained efforts.

“The Seplat and the EdoBEST examples are replicable and scalable models of private sector and public sector interventions. To achieve them at national scale requires comprehensive needs assessment to identify the strengths, weaknesses, and gaps in the current education workforce.

This involves analysing teacher skills, professional development opportunities, and the alignment of the workforce with the evolving needs of learners and society,” he said.

Why Seplat initiative must be nationalised

Since the goal of transformative programme is to significantly increase the number of qualified educators by 2030, with emphasizes on international cooperation for teacher training, particularly in developing nations, least developed countries, and small island developing states, Nigeria ought to maximise the opportunity.

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Some of the teachers that benefited from the training shared their experiences thus; Francis Edeki, who was recognized as the most outstanding teacher, stated that he did not find teaching exciting before joining the programme but since coming for the event, he had become encouraged to follow his teaching call.

Similarly, Flora Ehimen, a teacher from Edo State, said; “the knowledge I gained from Seplat will be transferred to my students.”

Beauty Atsenuwa, also a beneficiary, said the STEAM based training provided to the teachers by Seplat is expensive and cannot be afforded with teachers’ salaries if not for Seplat’s sponsorship.

“From what they said, if we are to pay for this, 99.9 percent of teachers here will not be able to afford this with the meagre salaries we are paid.

“Looking at our environment, how many organisations will think it necessary to give back to society? Seplat, you are too much.

“You’ve given us an opportunity that is rare and we cannot thank you enough, and I believe just as it is in my mind, the only way we can pay you back is to go back to our various schools and do the needful; impact lives, build destinies that will in turn make our nation a great place to be in,” she stated.

Seplat’s CSR initiative

Emphasising the importance of collaboration, Seplat urges increased cooperation between the private sector, educational institutions, and government bodies.

Such partnerships are crucial for aligning educational offerings with job market demands and enhancing teaching and learning standards.

The company’s collective efforts are vital in building a skilled and productive workforce that can drive the nation’s growth and development in the years to come.

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Since educators are the architects of our future, it is imperative to provide for them the support and resources they need to thrive in their roles, as seen in Seplat’s STEP.

By doing this, the country can unlock the full potential of its educational workforce and power them to drive positive change within their communities.