The Anglo — Dutch oil giant, Shell Petroleum Development Company (SDPC), yesterday said its investment in the sciences in Bayelsa State schools, has helped reverse the dearth of candidates from the state possessing relevant qualifications for employment in the areas of engineering, medicine as well as oil and gas disciplines.
SPDC Managing Director, Mr. Mutiu Sumonu, stated this in Yenagoa on the occasion of the fourth edition of the science competition for secondary schools in the state.
The competition sponsored by the oil giant was in collaboration with the state Ministry of Education, Intels, Science Teachers Association (STAN) and Initiative for Science and Education Development (ISED).
Represented by Mr. Evans Krukrubo, General Manager, Sustainable Development and Community Relations, Mr. Sumonu said, "we are here today to ensure that our children in Bayelsa State develop a keen interest in the sciences and also encourage more students to pursue these subjects at higher education.
"We decided to focus on science education, because graduate recruitment exercises have highlighted the dearth of candidates from Bayelsa State possessing relevant qualifications for employment in the areas of engineering, medicine as well as oil and gas disciplines."
Continuing he said, "based on the evaluation studies carried out by SPDC staff, there has been a significant increase in the enrolment of science subjects and pass rates in WAEC and NECO exams since the commencement of the Bayelsa Science Quiz and Fair in 2009."
According to him, education remains one of the company's areas of focus in social performance delivery strategy and had invested a lot in this respect over the last few years.
He said, "the SPDC JV in collaboration with INTEL Corporations and the Education Trust Fund (ETF) set up a web-based Science and Mathematics learning programme called skoool.ng. This programme has already taken off in Bayelsa State- a centre was set up at Nembe National Grammar School and handed over to the state Ministry of Education in July 2011.
"Prior to this, the SPDC JV, upgraded the infrastructure in the Government Science & Technical College, Ekowe, among other schools. The JV also handed over to the Bayelsa State Government, the Yenagoa Model School at Okaka-Epie, constructed at the cost of N142m. In addition, over 300 secondary school students from the state are awarded scholarship annually.
"In September 2012, we awarded full scholarships to 20 brilliant pupils selected from community primary schools in the state in our flagship Cradle-to-Career Scholarship scheme, which provides quality education for scholars in reputable secondary schools in the region. A total of 60 students from the state are currently benefiting from the scheme."
In his remarks, the State Commissioner for Education, Salo Adikumo, lauded the effort of the company and called on other multi-national firms operating in the state to emulate SPDC's noble gesture aimed at improving the socio- economic well- being of the people in its area of operations.
He assured that the state government would continue to provide the needed peaceful climate for investments to flourish.
A total of 99 schools in the state took part in the competition and the subjects covered were English, Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Agricultural Science.
Bellary Secondary School, Yenagoa emerged the overall winner while Obolo Grammar School in Southern Ijaw council area came second and Isaac Adaka Boro College of Education Demonstration School took third position.