Unlike many states of the federation that are accessible and grapple less with infrastructure, the Bayelsa rural area is 80 per cent riverine and struggling with much needed access and funding to procure laboratory equipment for secondary schools in the riverine communities.
Based on the data and visitations by officials of the State Ministry of Education, over 200 secondary schools lack proper science laboratory equipment, a necessity to improve science based education in the rural areas.
To this end, groups including the Association of Professional Women Engineers of Nigeria (APWEN) are assisting in promoting Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) curricula in secondary schools across the country, with special focus on the girl child in partnership with the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB).
The partnership with the association was launched under the “STEM-it-out-4girls” campaign with the theme: ‘Interest and Proficiency in STEM’.
Other state agencies and state ministry of Education have embraced BayelsaPRIME, a technology based teaching policy that allows the teachers in schools across the state to synchronise tablets and smartphones with that of the head teachers and students alike.
The state government went further with the establishment of the Bayelsa State Education Development Trust Fund Board and the Science and Technology Education Board. These two boards were established by the state government to raise funding and intervene in the supply of science equipment to deficient schools in the rural areas.
The boards, in partnership with the state government however raised funds which has provided ten secondary schools in the rural areas of the state with science laboratory equipment to improve the standard of education through critical interventions.
The state commissioner for Education, Gentle Emelah, while commending the State Education Development Trust Fund’s commitment to improving the standard of education in the state through critical interventions, affirmed Governor Douye Diri’s determination to translate his prosperity vision in the education sector.
Also, the acting chairman of the Education Development Trust Fund (EDTF), Prof. Francis Sikoki, stated that the EDTF Board places high priority in science education, hence the quick approval of funds for the procurement of science equipment. He said the decision to intervene in ten schools was due to paucity of fund and assured that more interventions will be done in phases.
The executive secretary of the EDTF,(Mrs) Alice Atuwo while reacting to some of the demands made by the principals, admonished them to make best use of the equipment and show of accountability, informing that the Monitoring and Evaluation team of the EDTF will periodically visit the schools to ensure the items are put to good use.