As the saying goes, children are the future of tomorrow, and Hon. Toby Okechukwu understands this so well as he goes the extra mile to make sure he not just secures the future of the children in his constituency, but he also bring them out of their shell to make them see a whole world of opportunity at their disposal as he have yet again.
Okechukwu who goes out of his way to carry out so many school projects for students in his constituency such as distributing science kit to over sixty public schools, classroom block building and school renovations, training science teachers at SEDI on three occasions and giving them science kits to help them teach the students better, distributing JAMB and WAEC past question papers every year, purchased seats and desks for over sixty public schools, sponsoring students to learn vocational training and also paying WAEC fees for over 1000 students yearly and this year added learning tour to the list of things which he is does for school children.
The first batch of the learning tour which catered to over 200 students from 11 schools in his constituency such as Boys Secondary School Mmaku, Boys Secondary School Awgu, St.Vincent Secondary School Agbogugu, Community Secondary school lsu Awaa, Community Secondary School Ngene Ugbo, Model Secondary School Mpu, Girls High School Nenwe, Kings Secondary School Oduma, Urban Secondary School, Oji River, Awlaw High Secondary School, Model secondary School , Isikwe Achi.
Ugamatv recalls that The Deputy Minority Leader, Hon. Toby Okechukwu, in an exclusive interview with Ugamatv had promised to take a selected number of students in Aninri, Awgu, and Oji-River Federal constituency for a learning tour in several places.
“Like I would always say, you can take a man’s wealth and properties from him, but education is the one thing you can never take away from him. What we are trying to do is to encourage our young people to have exposure. We want to encourage them to come and interface with what happens in urban areas by taking them to various points so that they will be inspired.
“Places like airport to see what it looks like, manufacturing companies like Innoson where they manufactures cars and plastics, some will want to be broadcasters, firsthand experience will sufficiently expose our young people. So we want to select people from various schools and then get them exposed, and we will be doing it routinely so that they will have sufficient opportunity to understand what all these sectors do” he said.
Other representatives should add their efforts to what the state governor is doing- Udeuhere
The learning tour which kicked off on the 3rd of November with a seminar hosted by Dr. Godwin Ikechukwu Udeuhere, where he educated the students on the reason for the learning tour and what Hon. Toby planned to achieve with it.
Addressing the students, Udeuhere said “Hon. Toby Okechukwu is that person that assists some of you in the payment of your WAEC fees for 4 years now. He is the same person who took all the science teachers in awgu, oji river and aninri to SEDI, transported them for 7 days, gave them training and also gave them mobile science kits”.
Speaking on Toby’s reason for organizing the learning tour, he said, “Toby is a product of a local school. As a result of this, he knew what it takes to do what he is doing. Some people at his level today will not remember the things he remembers. You are going to visit FRCN Enugu, and also NTA.
“These and more are what hon. Toby have packaged and wants to expose you people to these places. He wants to do it without any cost from the school or from the government. After the learning tour, you all will be given money. The teacher that also accompanied you will also be given money to wash their clothes with detergents.
“This is his own little contribution to assist the governor of Enugu state who has done well in educational activities because the educational system is very large and as such you don’t leave it to a particular person”, he said.
Advising other lawmakers to help in the running of the affairs in the state to, Udeuhere said “And in effect of that we are holding other representatives to add their own effort to what the governor is doing. What we are doing is not political, he has nothing attached more than to assist the students to be in the mood of competing with others when they graduate and enter higher institutions, that’s just his motive”, he said concluding.
One of the principals of one of the schools present thanked Udeuhere, saying that “It’s really a very big privilege like the honorable has said before, most of us didn’t have such an opportunity that is being given to you by hon. Toby, and it is a very wonderful opportunity”.
The learning tour which first started at NTA Enugu saw the trooping into the building from buses fueled by Hon. Toby for the 3 days of the event.
The head of News department who was there to receive the students at their arrival welcomed them to the station and went on to show them different departments of the station such as the newsroom, editing studio, live studio, recording studio, their uses and so much more while also teaching them the need for the different departments and what they are meant for.
“NTA Enugu is a little different from the NTA Aba, Awka, Onitsha, Umahia and Owerri because of the tag, ‘network center’ which is due to our digital satellite” he said.
Teaching them the use of the 5 w’s and h and how it is applied in broadcasting, he also taught them why broadcasting are one of the most referred profession in the world due to their role as the gatekeepers of the society.
From NTA Enugu, the excited students moved to Innoson plastics where they were intrigued with the plastic making process which they saw there as well as learning the different types of plastics and what made them different.
Mr Clinton Ogudu, a worker at the factory who also served as a tour guide for the students took the students on a tour of the whole facility, as well as engaging them in an interactive session where they experienced firsthand how the plastics were made.
We owe them a responsibility to have sufficient exposure to things that guide life- Okechukwu
The learning tour at Scientific Equipment Development Institute (SEDI) where the students wrapped up the excursion was the highlight of the event as they were visited by Hon. Toby Okechukwu who was as excited as they were over all they had learned in the previous days.
Speaking to them, he said “We are from a rural constituency and not like those who are studying in the urban, so I want you all to see and to experience what happens here.
Talking about his alma mater, St. Vincent Secondary School Agbogugu, he made it worthy to note that former Deputy Governor of Anambra state, Austin Ezenwa Agbalanze 1 of Abagana, Sentor Otazi, Senator Ike Ekweremadu who was once a teacher at the school, Hon. Cletus Enebe, Rev. Fr. Mbaka, Martin Ilo were all products of the school.
“There are people who came from our school to be something higher, so this tour you are making right now take it very serious, because it’s to make sure that you discover yourself and know your future is in your hands”, he said.
In an exclusive interview with Ugamatv, Okechukwu added “We owe them a responsibility of them growing up in a very enlightened manner, growing up to have sufficient exposure to things that guide life, to engineering, to science, to manufacturing, to journalism, to printing, to aviation.
“These are the things that can inspire them for their careers tomorrow. So if they are limited to what they see in my constituency which is a rural constituency, they may not have the interest in some of these things that are happening in manufacturing and engineering.
“So what we have done is to give them exposure, so that it can influence the choices they make, and for them to see where most of the science kits they use in school is manufactured” he said.
When asked if he plans to make the learning tour a yearly event he affirmed saying, “We can be doing it for final year students in secondary schools”, he concluding.
Engr. Oforndu who represented Engr. David Daniel, the Acting Managing Director and CEO of the institute welcomed the students to the facility while also saying how pleased he was to guide them through the touring process of the facility.
“As a matter of information and necessary gratitude, I want to let you know that SEDI is an arm of The National Agency for Science and Engineering of the federation and strictly supervised by the presidency. As a matter of mandate, the institute is to research and develop science equipments and engineering construction, that will be used for teaching you in the university.
“Our primary objective is to minimize importation, and make sure that teaching aids that students, right from basic to post basic level of education is produced and domesticated within. It is obvious that we know that majority of the items we use are imported into this country. And sadly it does not help the situation.
“We’ve also carried out an investigation and found out that the schools we manage within lack the basic facilities that will encourage effective learning in our schools and hence the need for local manufacturers and researchers, to go into the research and production of basic science equipments, that students in secondary school and universities will use for their experiments.
“The reason is to make them globally competitive and make sure that you study science and mathematics in Nigeria just like it is studied in the western world. We already have marvelous teachers here in Nigeria, but the challenge is infrastructure to aid the learning, and because of that the federal government is interested in domesticating this basic science equipment within to make sure that schools can access them at affordable rates.
“Because of cost of importation, so many private schools and government schools do not have the financial capacity to bring about their procurement and make sure that students of these schools make use of them while they are in school. So at the post basic level, they find it difficult to understand deeper interpretations of these mathematical approaches of science education, and the reason is that they were not exposed to them earlier on.
“That’s what has actually given birth to the local production and domestication of some of the basic science equipments and to ensure that teachers who teach science subjects would be able to lay hands on some effective models that will convey effective learning and when they do it, it becomes easier for students to use it.
“The aim of all these is to take you to a place of global competitiveness. Where you can compete with you fellow students around the world”, Oforndu concluded.
At the end of his speech, Engr. Oforndu took the students on a tour to all the departments of SEDI, while also teaching them on the proper use of some of the equipments found there.
In a vote of thanks, one of the students of Community Secondary School Ugbo, Chinenye thanked Toby for his hard work and all he keeps doing for schools in his constituency ,“I have seen a lot of your work even when we went to innoson company, where we saw many things you did there, and we are here in SEDI and I saw the equipments you gave to them, and I want to say keep it up and also say thank you very much”.
At the end of the excursion, Hon. Toby Okechukwu put smile on the faces of the students and teachers by giving each of the students and teachers a cash gift which in his words he said they should ‘use it and buy detergents’ to wash their clothes.