Officials of the Ogun State Government led by Special Adviser to the Ogun State Government on Education, Honourable Ronke Soyombo, were in Oyo State recently to understudy the Start Them Early Programme (STEP). The initiative is currently being sponsored in six schools in the state following the success of the pilot programme in Fasola Grammar School, Fasola Oyo State. They were received by the STEP-Oyo Coordinator, Ms Bola Larinde, and other team members working on the project.
Welcoming the visiting team, Deputy Director-General, Research for Development of the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (DDG R4D IITA), Dr Kenton Dashiell, spoke about the collaboration between the IITA and the Oyo State Government. He said that although STEP-Oyo runs as an extracurricular activity in the school, it has a great impact on the students, school and larger community. He also explained that the students were provided with modern agricultural equipment, small scale farm machines, computers to promote ICT in Agribusiness and internet facilities to access educational information.
The team then proceeded to Fasola Grammar School to witness a student demonstration and tour the facilities. They were delighted to see the Demonstration Field, where students were actively engaged in mechanised agriculture; the Processing Centre, ICT room and Training Room; and at each enterprise, STEP-Oyo students wowed the delegates with activities of the enterprise and their Agribusiness career prospect. They also toured the Broilers and Layers Pen, the Screen House and the Biogas Station.
The visit proceeded with a tour of the school facilities. The visiting team were informed that the school had to be revamped to meet with standards needed to run the programme. They were taken around to see the school hall, classrooms, laboratory, staffroom and other offices. While the students displayed some of their products to the amazement of the team. These included confectioneries, vegetables, eggs, broiler birds, graphic designs, Microsoft PowerPoint presentations, sanitisers and liquid soaps.
At the end of the tour, Honourable Soyombo spoke on behalf of the visiting team. She lauded the Oyo State Government for setting the pace in improving the skill-set of young persons. She also acknowledged that this was a model they were working towards implementing in Ogun State as part of their ongoing curriculum review.
Oyo State is the first state In Nigeria to adopt STEP after the programme was introduced by the IITA in Africa. The programme is currently being facilitated through the Oyo State Agribusiness Development Agency (OYSADA) in Bishop Phillips Academy, Ibadan, Methodist High School, Ibadan, Christ High School, Oleyo, Adegun Asake Grammar School, Igangan, Iresaadu High School, Iresaadu and UMCA Secondary Grammar School, Igbeti.
The visit was brought to an end with a meeting between Ogun State, OYSADA, Oyo State and the IITA. In attendance were Honourable Ronke Soyombo, Special Adviser to the Ogun State Government on Education; Mrs Oyindamola Sodimu, and other members of the Ogun State team: Mr Bakare, Mr Adeeko, Mr Samuel Olusegun, Mr Ayo Oderinola, and Mr Eniola-DR MOE and Mr Fatai. Also present were Dr Dashiell, DDG R4D IITA; Mr Adedayo Adefioye, STEP Africa Coordinator; A World Bank representative; and Mr Ilori representing OYSADA.