Strengthening Geosciences Education Is Investing In Future- Expert

Some key Participants at the NAPE/NMGS/UNILAG mini conference

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 conference theme 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
 are
emerging 
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,
the
Environment and
 other 
related 
issues.


“The
  conference will 
also
 provides 
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 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
 the time frame was advocated.


“Support
 for
 these
 retooling
 efforts
 also
 do
 not
 rest
solely 
with 
the
 education
 commissions,
 but
 ia
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 
believe
s 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 conference’s theme was carefully selected to spur participants’ interest 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
 be
fit 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 they relate to the students.

“These goals include the provision of appropriate fora and platforms for budding geoscience students to network among themselves, and receive mentoring from seasoned academic and industry professionals.

“It will also enable them to showcase their knowledge of the diverse sub-disciplines of the Geosciences through the presentation of technical papers and participation 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, and the capacity to deploy them to the areas they are critically needed in 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, of the 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 academia, in a bid to achieve the much-desired positive teaching and learning outcomes in tertiary institution

In her opening remark, the Local Organising Chairman (LOC) and Head, Department of Geosciences of the institution, Prof. Mary  Odukoya, noted that the conference would be a game changer and an eye opener for the students in their quest to make their contributions felt in national development.

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