Strengthening Geosciences education investment in future — NAPE President
Lagos, Sept. 8, 2023 (NAN Mr Elliot Ibe, President, Nigerian Association of Petroleum Explorationists (NAPE), says strengthening Geosciences education is an investment in the future of the nation and indeed the world.
Ibe made the assertion in his keynote address at the 11th NAPE and the Nigerian Mining and the Geosciences Society (NMGS) Mini-Conference for students, hosted by the Department of Geosciences, University of Lagos on Friday in Lagos.
The theme of the conference is: Retooling Geoscience Education in Nigeria; Current Trends and Emerging Realities. He noted that not only would the investment be beneficial to the future of the nation and the world, but also to the geosciences and geoscientists themselves.
According to him, there is no better time to highlight the development than this period when the energy landscape is shifting and new technologies areemerging at a rapid rate.
He added that the training, in addition to preparing graduates for the oil and gas industry, which accounted for over 80 per cent of the nation’s income, should also include making geosciences education relevant to the infrastructural development of the economy.
He added that it would also be relevant to entrepreneurship in mineral exploration and exploitation, solid mineral development,environmental issues and renewable energy.
“The Students’ Conference is a key component of NAPE’s University Assistance Program, geared toward enhancing the continuous improvement of educational standards in Nigeria.
“The essence of the conference is to afford students the opportunity to showcase their geoscientific knowledge by presenting papers on Petroleum, theEnvironment and other related issues.
“The conference will also provide a platform for Oil and Gas (producing and servicing) companies to engage with some of the best talents on offer,” he said.
Speaking further, the association president noted that retooling strategies should not just be focused on the students, but also on the faculty. He added that a clear roadmap for achieving this within a set time frame was advocated.
“Support for these retooling efforts also do not rest solely with the education commissions, but is collective responsibility that includes the academia and Industry.
“Associations such as NAPE and the NMGS, thus have a great role to play to provide vehicles similar to this conference to enable thoughts in this space to be properly articulated as well as ensure input to the evolving geoscience curriculum and by inference, on national policies on education.
“NAPE believes that this conference will therefore provide a veritable avenue for industry experts, academia, students, and decision-makers to share experiences in formal and semi-formal settings,” he said.
Also speaking, the NAPE University Assistance Programmes Chairman, Mr Philip Ajaebili, said that the theme of the conference was carefully selected to spur the interest of participants and inspire the next generation of geoscientists.
According to him, it will also assist them to be adequately equipped to handle emerging challenges requiring geoscience expertise.
“Our dynamic world is rapidly evolving with the speed of light. Environmental sustainability of our mineral exploration campaigns as well as application of artificial intelligence/machine learning, as well as geoscience entrepreneurship are some of the topics we shall be looking at.
“NAPE believes that identifying and incorporating a number of these emerging geoscience concepts into the Geoscience curriculum of our tertiary institutions is a task that is past due,” he said.
In his remarks, Prof. Akinade Olatunji, President of the NMGS, said the theme of this year’s conference is apt, going by the current feverish attempt by the National Universities Commission (NUC) to force down the throat of Nigerian universities, a new curriculum that had been roundly criticized by virtually all professional societies. He added that it had also been criticized by statutory registration councils set up by the government.
According to him, of particular concern is the proposed curriculum for the geosciences. He added that it was a curriculum that had jettisoned the core of the geoscience training and rather, introduced strange and irrelevant courses that could not 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 befit and proper for the educational system,” he said.
He added that this year’s conference attracted geoscience students from the University of Ibadan, in Oyo, Federal University of Petroleum Resources/Petroleum Training Institute, Effurun, in Delta and the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, in Anambra.
According to him, the joint organisation of the mini conference came into existence to prevent the duplications of energy and waste of resources that will have been in individual organisation of different mini conferences for students of Nigerian tertiary institutions.
“This is because both the NMGS and NAPE have the same goals as it relates to the students.
“These goals include the provision of appropriate fora and platforms for budding geoscience students to network among themselves, receive mentoring from seasoned academic and industry professionals.
“It will also enable them to showcase their knowledge of thediverse sub-disciplines of the Geosciences through the presentation of technical papers and participations in academic challenges throughout the conference periods,” he said.
He added that the expectation was that students would leave after the conference with enhanced knowledge,improved skill sets as well as the capacity to deploy them to the areas they are critically needed in the academia and Industry.
Declaring the conference open, the Vice Chancellor of the university, Prof. Folasade Ogunsola, urged participants to make good use of the occasion by exchanging ideas and knowledge that would enhance teaching and learning of geoscience.
Ogunsola, who was represented by the Dean, Faculty of Science, Prof. Elijah Oyeyemi, lauded the organisers of the programme, noting that such collaboration was the way to go.
She emphasised the need for more collaboration between industry and the academia, in a bid to achieve the much desired positive teaching and learning outcomes in tertiary institution.
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