Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Uchechukwu Ogah, has called on the Nigerian government, key stakeholders in the education sector and the extractive industry to work in synergy in order to standardize and prioritize funding of Geoscience Education in Nigeria to ensure employability of Geoscience graduates in the country.
The minister made the call while delivering a keynote address on a theme, “Nigeria’s Geoscience Education: Issues and Challenges on Geoscience Graduates Employability” at the opening ceremony of the 3rd Nigerian Association of Petroleum Explorationists-Nigerian Mining Geoscience Society, NAPE-NMGS conference and 10th NAPE mini-conference held at Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra State capital on September 23, 2021.
Dr. Ogah maintained that “Considering the magnitude of the challenge of employability of not only graduates of Geoscience, but the alarming rate of graduate unemployment in Nigeria, government and industry operators should as a matter of urgency deliberate on policy actions to prioritize funding of Geoscience Education and capacity building of the work force in the extractive industry.”
Also, “Government and Staff Union of Tertiary Institutions must engage in frank talk discussions to end all forms of strike actions which are needless distractions to educational development while geoscience faculty and departments must identify the skills sets required by employers in the extractive industries and review or redesign their curriculum, equip their students appropriately with those required skills.”
He further insisted that “Geoscience educators must strengthen collaboration with industry players and government policy makers and engage in faculty research and projects aimed at providing solutions to address real time operational and policy challenges in the industries and develop and implement curricula that is rich in entrepreneurial content for graduates to have the options for self- employment.
The minister, who lauded NAPE and NMGS for their works and efforts to lift Nigeria’s Geoscience Education to world standard, however encouraged them to engage more robustly with the government and industry players to get all answers needed to resolve issues in Geoscience Education in Nigeria’; adding that “getting practical and sustainable answers to pertinent Geoscience-based questions will be the very essence of your society’s services to humanity in this Century.”
Earlier in his welcome address, the Chairman of NAPE Local Organizing Committee, Prof. Benard Odoh, who pointed out that the employability of the Nigerian geoscience graduates needs to be addressed through effective Geoscience Education, noted that the conference offered broad range of quality presentations and discussions that will help shape the quality of Geoscience Education in the years ahead.
Prof. Odoh, who said that over 20 top captains and level players in extractive industry participated in the conference, noted that “The idea is to inspire the young ones and give them directions and hope that even though things are difficult, there is hope for their career.”
He said that although they projected 600 hundred students of Geoscience from across the country to participate in the conference, over 450 students from 16 universities from the East, West, North and South parts of Nigeria were in attendance despite the level of insecurity in the country.
Prof. Odoh however said that the university education supposed to be anchored on industry, policy and educators but it is unfortunate that globally, “the curriculum we run here in Nigeria is not delivering the goods, which is why you see a lot of our young people who graduated from school but find it difficult to get employed or even employ themselves. So we will work more closely with professional bodies like NAPE who are the primary off-takers of our products, as they will tell us what they want and that will help us retweet our purpose. Also, policy makers should be objective enough to allow us to create a dynamic curriculum that fit into the present job market.”
Also commenting on the conference, the chief host and Chairman, University Assistance Programs of NAPE, Dr. Emmanuel Ekenedilichukwu, who expressed his joy over the success of the conference said, “For a sitting minister to leave all his schedules and flew into Awka from Abuja this morning and give us a masterclass, world-inspiring keynote address shows the success of the conference.”
He noted that the effort of NAPE-NMGS is to bridge the gap between the academia and the extractive industry. According to him the conference featured free short course, Curriculum Vitae, CV, clinic, field trip, Bushmen where geologists will go into the bush, award night, variety night, African night, amongst others.
Prof. Odoh and Dr. Ekenedilichukwu thanked the Mines and Steel Development Minister, the Vice Chancellor of the university, Prof Charles Esimone, NAPE President and Patricia Ochogbu for their presence at the conference and enjoined the participants to make best use of the conference to build their career in extractive industry.