Prof. Gregory Ibe, founder and Chancellor, Gregory University, Uturu in Abia, says the institution has trained 272 technologists in 73 Universities across the country, to boost technological development in Nigeria.
Ibe, a professor of entrepreneurship, told the Nigeria News Agency , in Abuja that the trainees were drawn from state and federal universities.
According to him, the exercise was undertaken in collaboration with the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund), and the National Universities Commission (NUC).
He emphasised the need to bring in expertise from developed countries to train Nigerians in the fields of science and engineering because such fields was the basis for the development of any nation.
“Bringing such expertise to Nigeria can be a huge challenge in view of the enormous cost, but it can be a lot easier with collaborative exchange programmes.
“The cost can be much, but if we need qualitative universities, we must spare noting toward getting quality manpower, hence the need for adequate training of Nigerian manpower to attain global competitiveness.’’
He said that Gregory University had brought in experts from Israel, through the university’s Skill-G progamme, to help develop the competencies of Nigeria’s technologists and engineers.
“It is difficult for most universities in Nigeria, both private and state, to invite professors from overseas to come and work or conduct research.
“This is because of the monies involved. A professor’s salary is huge. One would need 10,000 dollars to get the university don here, which even excludes air ticket, hotel and feeding. We don’t expect our universities to afford those critical elements of construction.
“So, when I go overseas to a university that is almost 200 years, I try to sign MoUs with them; I try to agree with them on a collaborative activity that will involve exchange programmes both for faculty and students.
“Apart from training lecturers and technologist from the universities, we have trained from 51 Polytechnics technologists and lecturers on the use of critical laboratory equipment, especially on artificial intelligence.
“We focus on a lot of things, from what we call reverse engineering to `creative destruction’, to make sure that we arrive where others are arriving.’’
On the challenges of high school fees that frustrate the poor, especially in private institutions, Ibe said that his university had always offered scholarships to exceptional students who could not afford the fees.
“When Nigeria went into recession two years ago, the first thing I did was to grant 30 per cent reduction in my school fees to allow parents cope with the recession. I received a lot of accolades for this.
“I have a lot of students from everywhere – the south-west, Katsina, Kano, everywhere. Once you want the best in terms of deliverables of science, engineering and technology, you come over there.” he said.
Ibe added that promoting science and engineering in Nigeria’s institutions was of paramount importance, adding that his school had focused on that over the years.
He said that the school had also partnered with UNESCO to develop a pedagogy in equipment and instructional materials toward delivering science education from the primary to secondary school through to university level.
“The partnership has enabled the institution to revamp the study of science and engineering, but we need to do even more to achieve the desired reach and success,’ he said.
Edited by Ephraims Sheyin