Prof. Peter Okebukola, a former Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission (NUC), says training of students on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) will propel the Nigeria’s economy to greater heights.
Okebukola, also Director, Africa Centre of Excellence for Innovative and Transformative STEM Education (ACEITSE), Lagos State University (LASU), Ojo, made the assertion on Tuesday in Lagos.
He spoke at the formal opening of lectures on STEM Education, organised by the Centre.
The Nigeria News Agency reports that theme of the lecture was: “An Overview of Growth of STEM and STEM Education”.
Okebukola said that STEM education was an interdisciplinary and applied approach to teaching and learning Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
“Today is a historic day in LASU, because we flag off formal lectures for its Masters and PhD students on STEM Education.
“The first set of students are expected from Nigeria, Gambia, Ghana, Ivory Coast and Togo.
“Fifteen students have already enrolled from Nigeria; other students from other West African countries are expected to join early in February.
“Our mission is to promote excellence in the teaching and learning of STEM, through culturally-relevant, innovative and transformative models for addressing regional developmental challenges.
“We plan to produce innovative and transformative teachers that will inspire learning in STEM subjects through the delivery of a range of engaging and technology teachers to address regional development challenges,” Okebukola said.
He said that the centre was to correct all the deficiencies in teaching of STEM so that master trainers and best in Africa would be produced.
“The Master students will spend three semesters, which is one and half years, while the PhD students will spend three years.
“Communication will not be a problem with the French students, because we have partnership with the Department of Foreign Languages, LASU and French Language Village, which will help us teach them English Language.
“At the end of the training, our graduates are expected to have attributes such as; stem content knowledge, skilled in researching and addressing challenges in education and so on,” Okebukola said.
In his remarks, Prof. Olanrewaju Fagbohun, LASU Vice-Chancellor, advised all participating students to take leadership role in the understanding of STEM education and teaching science subjects.
Fagbohun said that after their programmes they should be willing to transfer knowledge they gained to other trainers all over Africa.
“Today’s event is significant for LASU, Nigeria and Africa, because we have started lectures in our Centre of Excellence today.
“It is unique, because Africa has a formidable challenge in the area of teaching science to students; many students run away from science because of the difficult concept involved in it.
“This centre will teach people in a different way such that they will have a deep understanding in all these concepts and be able to train others,” he said.
Fagbohun said that from the conceptual stage, this programme would be funded by the World Bank for four years and after, we would continue to fund the programme.
“We are ready and prepared to continue to sustain this project after the period of funding by the World Bank,” he said.
Also, Prof. Jamil Salami, former Coordinator, World Bank Tertiary Education Programme, said that STEM Education has become a top priority in the country.
Salami said that the programme would afford the particpants greater opportunity to participate in more research works and get excellent result in their fields.
Contributing, Prof. Etienne Ehile, Secretary-General, Association of African Universities, said that the key developmental challenge that the centre would address was to improve the quality of STEM teachers in Nigeria.
“Looking at the calibre and professional qualification of the ACEITSE team from LASU, led by Okebukola, it is not a surprise that LASU was selected as one of the universities to host the Centre,” he said.
Edited by: Kamal Tayo Oropo/Olagoke Olatoye
Experts urge Govts to tackle food wastage
Prof. Adegbola Adesogan of Animal Nutrition, has urged both the Federal and State Governments to tackle food wastage to prevent Nigeria from sliding into food crisis.
Adesogan, also Director, Livestock Systems Innovation Laboratory, Institute of Food and Agriculture Sciences, University of Florida, U.S, made the plea at the 10th Lagos State University (LASU), virtual public lecture on Wednesday in Lagos.
Theme of the public lecture was: “Challenges and Opportunities for Ensuring Food Safety in Post COVID-19 Era”.
Adesogan said that government at all levels needed to put in place the necessary infrastructure to hinder the problem of food wastage in order to prevent the country from sliding into food crisis.
“It is not by lack of food, but lack of accessibility and affordability of food.
“The pandemic has disrupted both the demand and the supply of food, leading to a surge in the cost of food items in many parts of the world.
“This has led to a situation where many countries are experiencing unprecedented increase in food prices with pervasive hunger in many third world nations,’’ Adesogan said.
He said that there was tremendous food wastage in some parts of the world where factories, schools and markets shutdown were forcing manufacturers to get rid of unsold products.
“To tackle the impending problem of food shortage, government should stabilise food prices and subsidise prices of nutrients rich foods.
“Increase income support, food aid and social protection for the needy, improve infrastructure for food distribution and storage and sow seeds of recovery by providing support for farmers, amongst others,” Adesogan said.
Also, Dr Adebimpe Onifade, Managing Partner, Echo Consulting Group, New Jersey, America, said that Nigeria was capable of achieving wealth and food security with some refocussing, realignment and repositioning.
Onifade said that training of future graduates on how to commercialise agriculture, know agriculture curriculum and emphasis on apprenticeship were the way forward.
“The length and content of training being offered by schools to practitioners should be re-examined with more focus on practical and apprenticeship programmes.
“Food is critical to survival, so agriculture is a wealth but I don’t know the mechanics behind it.
Also, Dr Sunday Akinyemi, Director, Research, National HorticulturAkinyemi rch Institute, Ibadan, said there was need to support farmers and put in place necessary infrastructure to prevent food wastage.
Akinyemi said that the need for proper education, which might include a change in curriculum, investment in demand-driven and practical research, provision of adequate market information were very important.
“Nigeria is one of the top producers of plantain and banana in the world.
“We produce 3.2 million metric tons of the crops annually, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) 2017 reports.
“Sadly, we do not export the produce to international markets due to some problems.
“If harnessed, plantain and banana have the potential to be a huge income earner for individual farmer and the government.
“We need to identify the value chain and money making stages of banana or plantain as planting, orchard management, harvesting and bunch sales or processing,” he said.
On her part, Dr Khadeejah Kareem-Ibrahim, Department of Animal Science, School of Agriculture, LASU, warned that food security was one of the biggest challenges currently confronting the world.
Kareem-Ibrahim added that food production had to grow by 70 per cent to cater for the world population, which was predicted to reach 10.5 billion people by 2050.
“One of the major ways of strengthening food security is by reducing food losses; food wastage in tropical weather such as Nigeria, is as high as 40-50 per cent according to FIIRO (2017).
“Post-Harvest Loss (PHL) is the measurable, quantitative and qualitative food loss in post-harvest system, comprising interconnected activities from the time of harvest through processing, marketing and food preparation.
“On the way forward of food security, growing varieties of crops that are tolerant to the prevailing climatic conditions and adopting better agronomic practices that increase soil moisture-holding capacity are important,” she said.
Edited By: Abiemwense Moru/Olagoke Olatoye (NAN)
10 to compete for $10,000 NASFAT’s BUILD Initiative competition
Mr Fatai Olayemi, the Chairperson of the Initiative, made this known in a statement on Tuesday.
According to Olayemi, BUILD is a way of seeking entrepreneurs and startups with innovative solutions, entrepreneurial mindset and can-do spirit.
He said, “It is to create funding and mentoring opportunities for young Muslim entrepreneurs and startups with innovative solutions aligned with the HELD agenda of the Society.”
The chairperson of the Initiative said that the 10 quarter finalists would undergo a virtual boot camp.
He said that they would showcase their solutions before a virtual pitch event involving a judging panel made up of industry experts, leading to announcement of winners in September 2020.
Olayemi said: “The winning pitch will get a 10,000 dollars investment from NASFAT, as well as potential investments by other angel investors, mentorship from renown entrepreneurs, industry linkages.
“It will also provide access to experts, access into incubator/accelerator husband accounting and legal support from the NASFAT Secretariat for 12 months.
“The 10 quarter finalists, out of many that submitted applicants are: Abideen Opeyemi Olasupo and Taibat Hussain Aduragba of OPAB Gas Station.
“Sodiq Ade Balogun of STEM Tutor; Bola Shakirah Ramos of Fashion Waste Recycling and Upcycling; Olayiwola Muhammad Jamiu of Autospect-Pre-purchase Vehicle Inspection Service.
Edited By: Olagoke Olatoye (NAN)
NCDC collaborates on Coronavirus research
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) is collaborating with relevant agencies to
develop research evidence that would inform the prevention and control of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, the Director-General (D-G) of the NCDC, made the disclosure on Thursday in Abuja during the daily briefing of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19.
Ihekweazu said that the team of collaborators had launched the Nigeria COVID-19 Research Consortium.
He said that the collaborators included NCDC and the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), the National Universities Commission (NUC) and the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND).
He said that by bringing in indigenous experts and scientists, there would be better guidance in the nation’s response to COVID-19, as it applied to the context.
The director-general disclosed that the agency had so far tested over 200,000 samples for COVID-19.
According to Ihekweazu, the centre currently has 54 testing facilities across 27 states and was working to bring testing centres closer to Nigerians.
Ihekweazu said that the process of getting test results would be expedited and achieved through the online portal being set up to enable individuals to access their results on their own.
“We have carried out over 200,000 tests across the country, and by far, most people get their results on time.
” We now have testing facilities in 54 centres in 30 of 36 plus one states,” he said.
He said that the agency would not bypass the states since they were the custodians of the public health response
He promised that the NCDC would continue to improve on the process and the response time.
“The major factor driving the delay is not in the testing, it is in the process and from getting the result from the laboratory to the individual.
“We don’t want to bypass the states because the states are really the custodians of the public health response.
`’What we are trying to do is: we have been working on a new platform so that people would be able to check their results themselves; that platform is nearly ready,” he said.
Ihekweazu disclosed that a lab, which was shut down for decontamination in Ebonyi, had been reopened, adding that the agency’s desire was to ensure that the people had a better experience.
Edited By: Vivian Ihechu/Ijeoma Popoola (NAN)
Okebukola bags Pillar of E-Learning in Africa
Prof. Peter Okebukola, former Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission (NUC), has won the AdasiScience True African Heroes Award 2020 as the “Pillar of E-Learning in Africa”.
Prof. Olanrewaju Fagbohun (SAN), Vice-Chancellor, Lagos State University(LASU), Ojo, said the award was in recognition of his tremendous contributions to E-Learning on the continent.
Fagbohun, in a statement on Wednesday in Lagos, congratulated the eminent scholar on his latest award, describing him as the great pride of LASU.
“Okebukola is also the pioneer Director, Lagos State University, Africa Centre of Excellence for Innovative and Transformative STEM Education (LASU-ACEITSE).
“Okebukola always looks for the good in others, and for the good of others, little wonder, you are sought after globally.
“On behalf of our great institution, the Lagos State University, we heartily congratulate you on this very recent recognition as “Pillar of E- Learning in Africa,” he said.
The vice-chancellor added that Okebukola had continued to set the pace for his E-Learning efforts in the country.
“With some eminent personalities, such as former President of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, GCFR, as Guest Lecturers and so on,” he said.
Edited By: Emmanuel Okara/Olagoke Olatoye (NAN)