Professor Peter Okebukola, a former Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission (NUC), says training of students on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) will propel Nigeria’s economy to greater heights.
Okebukola, also Director, Africa Centre of Excellence for Innovative and Transformative STEM Education (ACEITSE), Lagos State University (LASU), Ojo, made the assertion on Tuesday in Lagos.
He spoke at the formal opening of lectures on STEM Education, organised by the Centre.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the theme of the lecture was: “An Overview of Growth of STEM and STEM Education.”
Okebukola said that STEM education was an interdisciplinary and applied approach to teaching and learning Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
“Today is a historic day in LASU because we flag off formal lectures for its Masters and PhD students on STEM Education.
“The first set of students are expected from Nigeria, Gambia, Ghana, Ivory Coast and Togo.
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“Fifteen students have already enrolled from Nigeria; other students from other West African countries are expected to join early in February.
“Our mission is to promote excellence in the teaching and learning of STEM, through culturally-relevant, innovative and transformative models for addressing regional developmental challenges.
“We plan to produce innovative and transformative teachers that will inspire learning in STEM subjects through the delivery of a range of engaging and technology teachers to address regional development challenges,” Okebukola said.
He said that the centre was to correct all the deficiencies in teaching of STEM so that master trainers and best in Africa would be produced.
“The Master students will spend three semesters, which is one and half years, while the PhD students will spend three years.
“Communication will not be a problem with the French students, because we have a partnership with the Department of Foreign Languages, LASU and French Language Village, which will help us teach them the English Language.
“At the end of the training, our graduates are expected to have attributes such as; stem content knowledge, skilled in researching and addressing challenges in education and so on,” Okebukola said.
In his remarks, Prof. Olanrewaju Fagbohun, LASU Vice-Chancellor, advised all participating students to take leadership role in the understanding of STEM education and teaching science subjects.
Fagbohun said that after their programmes they should be willing to transfer the knowledge they gained to other trainers all over Africa.
“Today’s event is significant for LASU, Nigeria and Africa because we have started lectures in our Centre of Excellence today.
“It is unique because Africa has a formidable challenge in the area of teaching science to students; many students run away from science because of the difficult concept involved in it.
“This centre will teach people in a different way such that they will have a deep understanding in all these concepts and be able to train others,” he said.
Fagbohun said that from the conceptual stage, this programme would be funded by the World Bank for four years and after, we would continue to fund the programme.
“We are ready and prepared to continue to sustain this project after the period of funding by the World Bank,” he said.
Also, Prof. Jamil Salami, former Coordinator, World Bank Tertiary Education Programme, said that STEM education has become a top priority in the country.
Salami said that the programme would afford the participants greater opportunity to participate in more research works and get excellent result in their fields.
Contributing, Prof. Etienne Ehile, Secretary-General, Association of African Universities, said that the key developmental challenge that the centre would address was to improve the quality of STEM teachers in Nigeria.
“Looking at the calibre and professional qualification of the ACEITSE team from LASU, led by Okebukola, it is not a surprise that LASU was selected as one of the universities to host the Centre,” he said.