LAGOS – No fewer than 25 students and teachers at Government Secondary School (GSS) Owerri, recently received prizes from the alumni network of the Class of 86, nicknamed, OGSSIAN 86ers, during its flagship STAR Scholarship Award, a multi-million Naira multi-year initiative.
The event which aims to encourage students to uphold a tradition of academic excellence, sent recipients home beaming with a variety of delectable life-changing awards.
It also aims to recognize teachers for their passion, commitment, and professionalism.
Among other things, the awards come in the form of money, bursaries, tools, books, and certificates with the objective of enhancing the lives of recipients.
Speaking, Emeka Mba, Chairman of the STAR Project Committee, OGSSIAN 86ers, urged for multi-stakeholders collaboration to bridge the gap in skills among Nigerian students.
Mba spoke glowing as the STAR mentorship initiative was unveiled along with the second edition of the association’s annual award held at their Alma Mater in Owerri, Imo State.
Stressing the need for collaboration among government, corporate organisations, and civil society in bridging the skills gap, he noted that this is in line with the vision and mission of the STAR mentorship initiative of the OGSSIAN 86ers alumni network.
He said, “STAR is designed as a learning and development initiative which seeks to improve learning outcomes, expand school enrollment and raise a pool of students with stellar academic performances, focused on purpose-driven career goals.”
Mba said, “The STAR mentorship programme, unveiled today is the outcome of a detailed need assessment by the school management and the alumni network of the Class of 86.
“In an era where the dearth of human capital development remains a shared concern, the Class of 81-86 proposes its STAR Scholarship initiative as a strategic intervention to help tackle the human capital development deficit in the education system.”
According to him, the target is to boost the school’s curriculum, thereby equipping students with critical skill sets such as active listening, time management, critical thinking, and tips on self-awareness, among others.
He further explained, “Some of these are soft skills that are hardly taught in class but designed to enhance personal effectiveness to attract talent hunters and recruitment agencies in the future,” Mba assured.
He explained that through the STAR Mentorship Initiative, students would choose mentors whose professional careers matched their career aspirations and gain crucial skills under their mentors to enable them to succeed in the future. This is just, as he added, that a post project cycle impact assessment has been commissioned by the alumni to measure and track learning outcomes.
Also speaking at the event, Dr. Patricia Nlebedum, representative of the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education, applauded the initiative by the Class of 86ers. She praised the three-pronged approach to student capacity building that combines infrastructure development, curriculum development, and reward for academic performance.
Nlebedum collaborated that the initiative would create shared benefits for students, parents, teachers, government, and corporate organisations and help in transforming the economy.
She said the government is committed to sustainable partnerships with the critical development sectors of the economy toward building a viable educational system.
The President of the Class of 86, Engr. Onyewuchi Okere thanked the Commissioner for Education, Prof. Sylvester Okorondu, and Permanent Secretary of Education, Barrister Chinyere Ibeh, for their support of the initiative.
Okere further encouraged the students to take advantage of the opportunity provided by the alumni to reinvent themselves by understudying their forebears who offer valuable insights from their professional career experience.
In what seemed like a valedictory remark, the outgoing Principal, Rev. (Dr.) Jamike Eke expressed his profound conviction in the STAR Scholarship Programme, adding that the initiative would help sustain the tradition of academic excellence for which the college is reputed.
In his remarks, one of the inaugurated Resource facilitators, Peter Smart, shared a deeply inspiring account of his career growth story which chronicles doggedness, discipline, determination, and clarity of purpose.
The event climaxed in the presentation of an ICT lab equipped with WiFi and ICT-enabling infrastructure to facilitate access to the Internet for academic research.
Over 50 students have benefitted from various cash awards; while 350 students have enrolled and currently benefitting from the STAR Career mentorship initiative by the class of 81 Alumni.