Experts are advocating for curriculum review, adequate funding and partnerships among others as key in retooling geoscience education in the country.
Olajumoke Ajayi, managing director and chief executive officer at Ingentia Energies Limited made the call in her keynote address at the 11th Nigerian Association of Petroleum Explorationists and Nigerian Mining and Geosciences Society (NAPE-NMGS) mini-conference held recently inside the Ade Ajayi Auditorium, University of Lagos (UNILAG) with the theme: “Retooling Geoscience Education in Nigeria: Current Trends and Emerging Realities”, when she said there is need for curriculum review that balances theoretical knowledge and practical demonstrations.
“Industrial and practical training is very important because if we don’t move with the trend, we will lose out. We will be operating in the 19th century while living in the 21st century. It is essential to equip our educational institutions accordingly.
One way to retool geoscience education in Nigeria is by creating a balance between theoretical knowledge and practical demonstration,” she said.
In addition, Ajayi said: “To bridge the gap there must be training and workshops for lecturers, and industry professionals should be engaged as adjunct lecturers.
“Nigerian universities can prepare their students and lecturers for the geoscience challenges of the 21st century by integrating advancements into education, fostering research, and nurturing industry partnerships.”
Similarly, Jim Orife, chairman of the occasion said there is a need to retool the number and quality of students admitted to geoscience departments across universities in Nigeria.
The chief executive officer at Versa Tech Nigeria Limited also pointed out the need to upgrade the curriculum, and lecturers to reflect quality teaching will produce geopreneurs students.
Besides, he said the geoscience departments need equipment and adequate funding to meet the needs of the ecosystem in the contemporary era. To the students, he said they should retool their attitude and thinking.
“Retool your attitude, and thinking to become geopreneurs, embrace fieldwork to become competent in your field,” he said.
Mary Odukoya, head of the local organising committee at UNILAG (NAPE/NMGS) in her welcome address, said the theme for this mini-conference is timely and very significant considering the current challenges facing the industry and the education sector in Nigeria.
“In order to ensure sustainability in the extractive industry, any discussion on geoscience education must revolve around current trends and emerging realities, and that’s the reason we are here today.
On behalf of the LOC, I want to thank the vice-chancellor and her management team for their encouragement and unalloyed support. The LOC is also grateful to NAPE and MNGS for granting us the hosting rights and for covering the cost of the mini-conference,” she said.
Eberechukwu Oji, managing director at ND Western Limited represented by Adeyemi Adeniji, head of geology and geoscience at ND Western, in his keynote address, said, “The historical development of geoscience education in Africa was primarily driven by the interests of colonial powers, who sought to exploit the continent’s natural resources then.
This often led to the establishment of mining and geological departments in colonial administrations. The focus of geoscience education was primarily on practical training for mineral exploration and extraction, with limited attention to broader geological and environmental understanding.”
However, he revealed that in recent years, geoscience education has had a significant impact on the industrialisation of Nigeria, primarily by contributing to the exploration and development of abundant natural resources.
“This industrialisation influence can be articulated in natural resource exploration and exploitation, environmental management, water resource management, and energy production, among others,” Adeniji said.
Akinade Olatunji, president of the NMGS said the theme of this year’s mini-conference is so apt going by the current feverish attempt by the Nigerian University Commission (NUC) to force down the throat of Nigerian universities, a new curriculum that has been roundly criticised by virtually all professional societies and statutory registration councils set up by the government.
Olatunji said that of particular concern is the proposed curriculum for the geosciences. A curriculum, according to him, “That has jettisoned the core of the geoscience training but rather introducing strange and irrelevant courses cannot be said to be in the best interest of the geoscience profession.”
“A curriculum that did not make provision for all basic courses in the physical and mathematical sciences needed to prepare the geoscience students for a rigorous future in the geoscience field cannot be said to be fit and proper for the educational system.
The need for retooling geoscience education in Nigeria cannot be overemphasised.
The impact of digitalisation of teaching and learning environments demands such retooling. The future of geoscience education would be determined by the applications of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning, Internet of Things (IoT) and big data analytics,” he noted.
Dignitaries at the event were Elliot Ibie, FNAPE president; Hassan Umar, vice-president at FNMGS; Philip Ajaebili, UAP chairman; and A.B. Ekunola, representative of NUC, among others.