Lagos, Tuesday, 31st January, 2017 – The need for training for Africa’s teacher’s in today’s globalised and competitive world in order to adopt and implement effective learning strategies for future students, cannot be over emphasised. There is a pressing need to gain vital skills not learned while taking college courses, and to stay current with new techniques.
In 2010, Total E&P along with its partners, in collaboration with Massachusetts Institute of Technology, started a Teachers’ Training of Trainers (TOT) university education intervention named “Empowering The Teachers’ (ETT). The ETT which started in 2010, has an objective to enable outstanding young Nigerian faculty in science and engineering to collaborate with faculty at MIT to develop new curriculum and teaching methods that adopts MIT`s emphasis on problem solving approach and developing entrepreneurial attitudes among students.
It is possible that a teacher or lecturer may have completed his or her training and college education without learning new techniques, alongside the fact that many lecturers have not gone through teacher training at all, but have just gotten their jobs based on academic qualification alone. An education intervention like Total’s is, therefore, not only critical for teachers to know their material, it is also necessary for them to be able to help students in order for them to truly succeed.
The programme which is in its 6th year has produced over 50 fellows from various universities across the country who have gone on to become game changers in their respective universities. The aim of the event, held at EKO Hotel Lagos, was to assess the progress made by the initiative, by primarily fronting leading game changers who had benefitted from the program and who had testimonials of the impact on their work and their personal lives.
The summit started with a welcome address by Vincent Nnadi (FNSE), EGM, CSR & Medical Services, Total E&P, an opening speech by Nicholas Terraz, MD, Total E&P, a goodwill message by Dafe Stephen Sejebor, GGM, NAPIMS, and a keynote address by Funke Opeke, Founder, Main Street Technologies/CEO, Main One Cable.
This was followed by a number of presentations. Monique Simon, DIGAF, Total made a presentation on “University/Industry partnerships – challenges and best practices”, and Professor Akinwande, HOD, EE/CS, MIT, made a presentation on “Empowering the Teachers Program Review”.
There were also presentations from about three of the MIT Fellows. Francisca (‘Cisca) O. Oladapo, Spring 2014 MIT-ETT Fellow, Associate Professor and Head of Department, Computer Science, Federal University Lokoja, Nigeria: “MIT – ETT: “Amazing Network & Limitless Possibilities”; Dr. Kayode Ayodele, FETE, Spring 2013 MIT-ETT Fellow, Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering, Obafemi Awolowo University, lle-Ife, Osun: “A Course in Engineering Thinking: A Magic Bullet for Bullet for Improving Engineering Education”; and Dr. Francis Idachaba, Spring 2014 MIT-ETT Fellow, Associate Professor, Communications Engineering, Convenent University, Ota: “ETT Fellowship Next Steps”. These fellows narrated their experiences during and after their MIT studies.
‘Cisca Oladapo lamented the mundanity of some of the material she had had to use prior, and the fact that prior to her fellowship with MIT, she was unable to adequately incorporate new techniques and technology that may be available. She testified that her fellowship helped her to determine new ways of keeping her classroom and curriculum fresh, exciting, and highly educational. Kayode Ayodele spoke about the challenge of current material being too theoretic for students to apply in the real world, prompting science graduates to seek the highest paying banking job, unrelated to their 5 years of academic study. His solution was to develop a course in “Engineering Thinking” that brought science to the practical fore for students.
The summit also featured a panel session on “Bridging the Industry-Academia Gap”, which was moderated by John Addeh. Panelists at the session included Professor Joseph Ajienka, former Vice Chancellor, University of Portharcourt; Ahmadu Kida Musa, DMD-DW, Total; Professor Akinwande, HOD, EE/CS, MIT; and, Dr. Victor Odumuyiwa, MIT Fellow, who spoke about key solutions for the education system, with a successful case study of the University of Port Harcourt’s Institute of Petroleum Studies, a collaboaration between the university and Ecole du Petrole et des Moteurs (IFP) France.
Key learnings from all the presentations and discussions at the summit include that:
- there is need for more collaborations between the industry and academia (town and gown collaborations)
- students should be introduced to real life situations from their early learning stage
- a profound problem in the Nigerian academic system is the inability of students to relate with any meaningful problem
- there is little room for innovation in the Nigerian educational system
- the Nigerian educational curriculum does not change as quickly as technology does
- there is need for the industry to place a demand on the academia.
Another main highlight of the event was the inauguration of new MIT Fellows Network in Nigeria. This development, which was referred to as “the convergence of change agents”, is a positive step which will ensure collaborative work and innovation between the fellows.
The event was attended by persons from the private sector, academia, CSOs and media and ended with a cocktail party to celebrate the success of the program.