Joe Effiong, Uyo
Every year, Mobil Producing Nigeria (MPN) Unlimited, the operators of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC/MPN) joint venture, assembles hundreds of teachers in Akwa Ibom State for retraining in order to improve on their teaching skills.
This year, 250 teachers were invited to the workshop which though sponsored by MPN, is actually facilitated by Science Teachers Association of Nigeria (STAN), Akwa Ibom State branch.
The workshop according to Mobil, represented by its manager, public and government affairs, Mr Aniefiok Idiok, “aspires to improve the standard of English language, Mathematics, basic sciences and technology, civic education and ICT applications, among teachers in primary schools in the state.”
The oil giant said it need to invest in the training of primary school teachers in the hope that the knowledge gained would trickle down to the pupils across the state.
The 250 primary school teachers selected from across the 31 local government areas of the state for the workshop as the company’s strategy to deepen knowledge and strengthen teaching methodologies in specific subject areas, believing that if teaching methods are properly harnessed, positive learning strategies would evolve and be passed onto the ultimate beneficiaries – the children.
“Though this is not necessarily a routine annual event, but the NNPC/MPN Joint Venture has consistently sponsored training and workshops for both primary and secondary school teachers in Akwa Ibom State for a couple of years now. Sometimes the scope gets expanded, other times, it gets limited based on the prevailing economic climate.
MPN has a long history of contributions to education and human capacity development in Nigeria especially n Akwa Ibom State. A few of this include the NNPC/MPC sponsorship of indigent Akwa Ibom students in quality private boarding schools, the Graduate Assistance Programme (GAP), Phases I&II for over 750 unemployed graduates worth over N250 million , capacity building workshops for teachers, youth, women, etc. Overall, ExxonMobil affiliates in Nigeria have invested over N15 billion in several educational intervention projects/initiatives across the country. Other focus areas of NNPC/MPN joint venture contributions include health, sports, electricity, water supply, roads, infrastructure and development and economic empowerment in Akwa Ibom State and beyond.
The state chairman of STAN, Mrs. Anyanime Okopide Akpan, said the workshop became necessary since no educational system can rise above the quality of its teachers, as such the teacher’s education should be continuously given emphasis.
“Education the world over is an imperative tool for economic, political social and technological advancement. And in Nigeria an instrument par excellence for effecting national development. Therefore, teachers are the critical stakeholders or the midwives of educational services; without them as change agents, there can be no transformational education.
“The teacher is an educationist, a consultant, a counsellor, a mentor, a guardian, and in today’s society, a nanny. The teacher remains a source of new idea and initiative in the society. Her main concern being the promotion desirable attitude, ethics and as well as integrity and best practices in education.”
She said it was based on such views that the workshop was aimed exposing the teachers to gain more knowledge and insight in their spheres of endeavour.
She commended Mobil for the years of service in uplifting the level of education in Akwa Ibom state; saying that it was gratifying that science teachers were associating with positive collaborators with the interest of improving education at heart.
According to her, the workshop was a follow-up to a series of workshops for teachers in 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015, stressing that the workshop would update knowledge and skills of the participants in the specified areas as it was specially design to revitalise the capacities of the practising teachers in schools.
Permanent secretary in the ministry of education, Mrs. Helen Ante, said the state government had recently approved and recruited 3000 teachers to fill the vacant positions in primary schools in the state, to boost teaching and learning in that level.
She said there has been an increased enrolment of pupils in public primary schools in the state because of the free, compulsory and qualitative education in the state.