By Olubusuyi Adenipekun
The national art competition which the NNPC/Chevron Joint Venture has been sponsoring since 2005 has been identified as a major initiative that enriches Fine Arts curriculum in the nation’s schools which contributes to the growth of education and also plays a vital part in the nation’s development and history.

This view came from the Minister of State for Education, Hajia A’ishatu Dukku while delivering her address at the Art Exhibition/Prize-Giving ceremony for the 2007/2008 and 2008/2009 editions of the NNPC/Chevron Art competition which took place in Abuja on Thursday last week.

• Student artists at the art exhibition/award event in Abuja.
• Student artists at the art exhibition/award event in Abuja.

Dukku, who was represented by Mrs. Kunbi Ogunnaike, a Deputy Director at the Federal Ministry of Education, said: “Art education is very important to human development.

The arts enhance the process of learning by nourishing our integrated sensory, cognitive, emotional and motor capacities. In fact, the arts are the driving forces behind all other learning. A holistic education goes beyond the teaching of our students hard facts and computer science.

“A robust fine arts curriculum is therefore important for keeping the humanities truly humanizing and liberal arts education truly liberating the mind. We already have in place a sound fine arts curriculum.

This competition is one of those things that would complement it by helping to stimulate and retain our children’s interest in fine arts.”

She continues: “Some of the things we know about the people of the pre-historic times are based on their cave paintings and drawings. By supporting and providing our children opportunities to project their creativity, therefore, the NNPC/Chevron Joint Venture is helping to preserve some of our today for posterity and also encouraging imaginative interpretation of our collective experience.

Dukku commended the Joint Venture for their interest in the growth of the nation’s education by rendering educational support, adding that kudos should be given to the NNPC/Chevron for their scholarship programmes and vocational support projects which the company has been running over the years.

Of particular note, says Dukku, is the Science and Teachers’ Scheme in the Niger Delta, explaining that through this scheme, the company has provided funding as incentives for youths corps members to work in remote places in the Niger Delta.

“This scheme has added tremendous value to science education in the Niger Delta area and we believe that such large scale support for education would give the much needed fillip to our educational sector.”

The Chairman/Managing Director of Chevron Nigeria Limited, Mr. Andrew Fawthrop explained that the urge to fish out and develop the creative potentials of the youth is the major consideration which motivated the inauguration of the art competition in 2005.

Represented by Engr. Femi Odumabo, General Manager (Public Affairs of Chevron), Fawthrop further said: “For the NNPC/Chevron Joint Venture, investment in children and the youth is a sublime expression of our commitment to, and practice of corporate responsibility. We conduct our engagement with children from infancy to adulthood.

This helps them to be well rounded as individuals and as a group.We focused on core issues and activities in the development of children such as healthcare, education, sports, skills and career development, economic empowerment, environmental awareness and protection, among others.”

He continues: “The NNPC/Chevron Joint Venture sponsors this arts competition because we believe that creativity stimulates the mind. We hope that through our modest contributions, we would stimulate some of our young ones to different levels of greatness.

The works produced by our emergent artists here confirm that Nigeria’s future is bright.”

The Chevron boss also disclosed that the initiatives of the oil company in the education sector include the provision of infrastructure such as laboratories, classrooms, the donation of books, computers, science equipment, libraries and dormitories to communities in its areas of operation and other parts of the country, adding that the Joint Venture also sponsors competitions such as the yearly holiday computer camp for students; the Awokoya Memorial competition in Chemistry and Chris Ikomi Essay Competition in Delta State.

He added: “Chevron offers assistance yearly to the Science Teachers’ Association of Nigeria.

We also operate several scholarship programmes such as the Community Scholarship for our areas of operation, the National University Scholarship schemes, the Blind Students Scholarship for Medical, Nursing Laboratory Sciences and Engineering Students.

We also have the JDZ Block 1 Postgraduate Scholarship administered by Star Deepwater on behalf of the partners. Currently, no fewer than 6,000 students are benefitting from these scholarships.

While the theme for the 2007/2008 edition of the competition is “Celebration of My Culture,” that of 2008/2009 edition is “What Safety Means to Me.” No fewer than 260 entries were received for the two editions, with the judges for the competition prunning this figure to 40 outstanding entries (20 for each edition) for the final exhibition and prize-giving ceremony.

The competition is, indeed, providing the kid-artists a platform for not only expressing their talents in arts but also in keeping in touch with their culture.

And both Junior and Senior Secondary School students from all over the country did justice to these themes as their various drawings centre on the rich artistic inheritance of the nation’s culture and on safety precautionary measures as the nation has lost too many of its youths to violent and accidental deaths.

For these works of arts, these students and their teachers were given awards and certificates.

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