Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Thursday said the Federal Government was re-designing the country’s education curriculum as part of its education road map, and every child would count.
Osinbajo said this, while delivering the 23rd Convocation Lecture of the Lagos State University (LASU), during the university’s award of higher degree and postgraduate diploma certificates.
The title of the lecture was: “Africa Centres of Excellence in African Universities: A Veritable Catalyst for Nation Building And Development”.
He said it was obvious that there was need to change both the substance of education that Nigerian children received as well as the methods by which they were educated.
“We are clear that the key to achieving this is to focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) Education and the need for a workforce with STEAM skills to drive economic prosperity,” he said.
According to him, it was gratifying that LASU Centre for Excellence Programme had been earmarked as a Centre for Excellence and regional hub for Innovative and Transformative STEAM Education in Africa.
Osinbajo said the feat recorded by the university fits well with the Federal Government’s policy direction in education and its vision for a prosperous Nigerian economy, to be able to create jobs and train youths on those jobs for the next few years.
The vice president noted that the Federal Government new policy was to introduce Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics curriculum in primary schools.
“We also recognise that schooling should support the development of skills in cross-disciplinary, critical and creative thinking, problem solving and digital technologies.
“These skills are essential in all 21st century occupation,” he emphasised.
Osinbajo said the national curriculum being developed would not only include teaching of coding, digital arts, design thinking, robotics, critical thinking and other skills but also using these skills in interpreting traditional curriculum topics.
He said the aim of the Federal Government was to ensure that from early education, primary school on wards regardless of social background or geographical location every young person should have a fundamental level of digital and stem literacy.
According to him, this would enable the students succeed locally and internationally.
The professor said that government’s efforts under the national strategy would focus on implementing national retraining at primary and secondary levels.
He also said government was implementing the National Teacher Education standards, sharing best practices and efforts to attract more STEM graduates to the teaching profession.
“We will, therefore, be re-modelling and re-equipping 10,000 schools every year for the next 10 years.
“There is no doubt that we would be leaning heavily for direction, support and ideas of LASU’s Centre of Excellence programme, since by providence STEAM education will be your focus and this collaboration will be an important one.
“We are in the race against other economies and against time. Technology has changed the employment landscape permanently for the first time in human history.
“Men and women will be trained in their own counties, work from their bedrooms and compete for jobs anywhere on the planet. Computing is the ultimate agnostic tool, you may never even have to see your employer, employee or service provider,” he said.
The vice president, however, congratulated LASU for being selected among so many universities in West and Central Africa location as a Centre of Excellence, as part of the World Bank African Centres of Excellence Programme.
He said that was a recognition of the immense talent and hardwork demonstrated by the faculty and students of the institution.
According to him, time had come for African countries to invest more in education, to lift the people of the continent out of poverty.
“So what do we need to do to convert our country to the greatest centre for innovation and creativity in the world? Three things – number one, Education; number two, Education and number three, Education.
“The truth is that education is the most powerful force for socio-economic change in the world,” he said.
Osinbanjo also urged the graduating students to be concerned about building the nation and recognise that every generation was uniquely equipped to deal with its own challenges.
“Be suspicious of those who speak of the good old days, they probably suffer from memory loss . Your days are the best days,” he said.
In his remark, Mr John Mahama, former President, Republic of Ghana and chairman of the convocation lecture, urged African universities to move away from the colonial system of education and focus on science and technology, to engender growth and development of the continent.
Mahama said universities must provide visionary leadership and have academic autonomy, while political institutions must also avoid interference with the running of academic institutions.
He said for African universities to set the tone as African centres of excellence, there must be adequate funding, while institutions must also collaborate with each other in terms of multiple campuses for different specialisations in different countries.
“African universities can help bridge the gap created in African countries by focusing on science, technology and innovation, which can be the catalyst for the development of Africa,” Mahama added.
In his address, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State hailed the vice president and former Ghanaian president for honouring the invitation of the university.
Ambode said it was gratifying to note that LASU was now well-positioned to be among Nigeria’s leading universities and a proper citadel of learning and character development.
He recalled some of the challenges, which bedeviled the university in 2015, when his administration came on board such as backlog of unreleased results, low government subvention, infrastructure deficit, incessant industrial and student conflicts, among others.
“On assumption of office, we immediately embarked on some reforms, which today turned the story of the university around for good,” he said.
He said aside from amending the laws of the university and embarking on massive upgrade of infrastructure, the government also selected individuals with experience, dedication and a track record of remarkable leadership to lead the Governing Council.
“Today, there is an atmosphere of peace and industrial harmony in LASU. The backlog of results have been cleared and our students are graduating every year; stepping out in flying colours, armed with qualifications, character and ideas, to change the world,” he said.