Geared towards strengthening and setting in motion the continuous improvement of Geosciences education in Nigeria, students across the length and breadth of Nigeria have been encouraged to improve competencies, skills, and conceptual understanding of the subject despite the prevailing circumstances bedeviling the sector.
The charge was made by several speakers during the 11th NAPE-NMGS mini Conference which was held at the J.F Ade-Ajayi Auditorium of the University of Lagos on Friday, September 8, 2023.
Themed “Retooling Geosciences Education in Nigeria꞉ Current Trends and Emerging Realities”, this year’s conference witnessed the coming together of academics as well as industry players both from the upstream and downstream oil sectors, and other related fields of Geosciences.
The keynote speaker and the Managing Director, Ingentia Energies, Mrs. Olajumoke C. Ajayi who led the discussions underscored the importance of Geosciences education and its different components.
She emphasized the enormous problems in the sector but opined that stakeholders within the sector need to rethink its strategy.
In retooling geosciences education in Nigeria, the Energy expert posited that there is a need to create a balance between theoretical knowledge and practical demonstration. She averred that” today we no longer speak the language of the past because we have moved from Coal to the Internet and Renewable energy as a people’’.
According to the first female Managing Director in Africa’s upstream sector, digitization has become an important and viable tool to improve the scope of learning amongst students. As such, she tasked the youthful audience to take up responsibilities and make meaningful impacts with innovations in their various areas of interest especially in the study of Geosciences.
On his part, Engr Eberechukwu Oji of ND Western Energy Limited who was represented by Mr. Adeyemi Adeniji spoke on the historical development of Geosciences and its impact. He also identified some challenges and suggested a way forward.
The OAU Alumnus remarked that geosciences education in Africa was primarily driven by the interests of colonial powers, who sought to exploit the continent’s natural resources which often led to the establishment of mining and geological departments in colonial administrations.
In his words “ The focus of geosciences education was primarily on practical training for mineral exploration and extraction, with attention to broadening geological and environmental understanding”.
His presentation also highlighted the growing recognition of the need to develop indigenous expertise in geosciences as it was in the 1950s and 60s, expansion and diversification which was during the 1970s and 1990s, as well as consolidated millennial initiatives which shaped the 2000s till date.
While he condemned the paucity of funds to purchase necessary equipment for teaching the subject in tertiary institutions, Mr.Adeniji opined that in bridging the gap, there must be continuous training and collaboration with industry professionals who could serve as adjuncts within the walls of the classroom to improve the learning of the subject.
Earlier in her welcome remarks, the Vice Chancellor of the university who was represented by the Dean, Faculty of Science, Professor Elijah Oyeyemi welcomed participants to the conference which bothers on a very important concern. He asserted that Geosciences education plays a crucial role in fostering scientific literacy, environmental awareness, and sustainable development as well as in preparing future generations of geoscientists, policymakers, educators, and citizens.
The Professor of Ionospheric Physics also noted that as a branch of science education, it provides the knowledge, experience, and ingenuity to meet society’s demands for natural resources, environmental quality, and resilience to hazards.
Similarly, the Head of Department and Chairperson, Local Organizing Committee, Prof. Mary Odukoya FNMGS, averred that the conference is timely and very significant considering the current challenges facing the industry and education sector in Nigeria.
She also noted that the move to organize the mini-conference was to ensure sustainability in the extractive industry as well as provoke meaningful discussion on geosciences education which must revolve around current trends and emerging realities.
Chairman of the occasion, Engr Jim Orife in his address, emphasized the need to retool the number and quality of students admitted to the geosciences department across Nigerian universities.
Likewise, he called for the need to ensure the sustainability of the mining and extractive sector by providing the needed funding and equipment needed to learn in the current time.
Other speakers at the event include Director-General, Nigerian Geological Survey Agency, Dr. Abdulrazaq Garba; and Mrs. Joy Gabriel, who opined that the involvement of stakeholders in the sector is paltry noting that a number of these emerging concepts in the Geoscience curriculum of our tertiary institutions is a task that is past due and that there’s no better time to highlight this than this period when energy landscape is shifting and new technologies are emerging at a rapid rate.
This year’s event which is the 11th had participating students from as far as the northern part of the country and were sponsored to the conference by Alumni of the participating students who are members of NAPE and NMGS.