How quiz and other competitions can galvanize education in Edo State: The LAPO example
The Lift Above Poverty Organization (LAPO), recognizing education as a potent weapon against poverty and, being an organization that places high value on children education has since 2006 introduced the LAPO annual quiz competition for secondary schools across Edo State.
This is in recognition of the fact that education is an instrument of economic empowerment and national development. No wonder that one of the national education goals is the acquisition of appropriate skills and the development of mental, physical and social abilities and competencies as equipment for the individual to live and contribute to the development of the society.
But unfortunately, the standard of education in Nigeria has fallen so badly. Education in Nigeria is bisect with myriads of problems. These include poor funding as manifested in inadequate classrooms, teaching aids (Projectors, Computers, Laboratories and libraries), paucity of quality teachers and poor/polluted learning environment. In addition to these inadequacies, our school system is plagued with numerous social vices such as examination malpractices, cultism, hooliganism and corruption.
The LAPO competition begins at the senatorial level and climaxes at the state level where the overall best three winners and their schools are rewarded with valuable gifts and the prestigious LAPO trophy.
LAPO Managing Director, Godwin Ehigiamusoe says the organization considers the competition as a development process and encouragement of excellence amongst secondary school students who are the future leaders of this great nation. He stated that LAPO’s decision to initiate the annual competition, a part of her corporate social responsibility, is in furtherance of its quest to touch the lives of Nigerians in many positive ways and to create a total and self-motivated human beings in every client/member of the LAPO Foundation.
This also gave rise to the other key component of LAPO's intervention in education including scholarship to students who are children of clients. A total of 734 students have benefitted from the gesture since 2008.
LAPO (NGO) General Manager, Sabina Idowu-Osehobo, describes the quiz competition as a long-lasting initiative to promote intellectual development through healthy academic competition among secondary school students, adding that "LAPO is using this medium to boost self-confidence in students thus fighting examination malpractices."
Coordinator of the competition, Ugo Ezeana says in addition to reviving students’ interest in education, the competition offers the participants a platform on which to interact and exchange ideas and experiences having come from different parts of the state. This will enable them appreciate their differences in terms of culture.
One encouraging trend observed is that the quality of performance of the schools has been on the increase since the competition began in 2006 thus justifying one of the reasons LAPO initiated the quiz competition in the first place.
The principal of Non-Pareil Education Foundation School, Benin City, Mr. J.A. Umobuarie whose school emerged overall winner in 2009 paid glowing tributes to LAPO for sustaining the competition. He said winning the competition had boosted their morale as people now regard the school as a model for success in academics.
Umobuarie said the competition “spurs children to study harder and live up to expectation in their academics. It helps to raise the standards of education not only in Edo but in Nigeria in general”
Expressing similar sentiments, Osaigbovo Osazuwa, the principal of Ihogbe College, winner of the maiden edition of the competition in 2006, described the initiative as laudable and highly competitive. He urged LAPO to sustain the competition as it builds the students academically to pass their internal and external examinations without stress.
On his part, Theophilus Ofume, a mathematics teacher in Springfield High School described their participation in the programme so far as meaningful. “The contest is highly competitive. The tension is a part of the excitement. Schools are usually well represented. When you beat any of the top ones, you know that you have done something’, he declared.
In their various comments, students who have participated in the competition in the past, Adebayo Daniel (Ogbe Senior Secondary School, Benin City), Enowe Theophilus and Samson Akile (Early Breed Secondary School, Benin City) thanked LAPO for instituting the competition and urged the organization to continue to come up with initiatives that would touch their lives in many positive ways. They conceded that the competition has repositioned them academically, promising to be more diligent and committed to their studies.
On her part, former Edo State Commissioner for education, Dr (Mrs) Ngozi Osarenren expressed gratitude to LAPO for her noble contributions to educational development in the state and pledged government's support.
Amongst others, the objective of the LAPO annual quiz competition is to enhance students understanding of science and social science subjects including current affairs in Nigeria, and to provide a platform for teachers and students of various schools to exchange ideas and learning experience as well as groom future leaders.
Indeed, children and youths as leaders of tomorrow should be the primary target of human capital formation in any society. Given the challenges that children are faced with today especially in the face of rapid advancement in technology, education can only serve to ensure a brighter, successful and fulfilled life for today’s children.
According to educationists, early childhood development is an investment for life. Increased investment in children today builds a better educated, prosperous and peaceful citizenry tomorrow. Children with the right kind of education grow up to meet the cognitive, social, emotional and physical needs, become productive adults needed for the socio-economic development of their country. This is why the LAPO example of promoting educational development in Nigeria has met with huge commendation across the state and beyond.
- James-Wisdom Abhulimen, Manager, Media & Publication, LAPO