Expert Makes Case for Students’ Skills, Competencies Devt

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A former Commissioner for Science and Technology in Lagos, Mr. Hakeem Fahm has stressed the need to offer and develop tools, knowledge, skills and competencies to students to meet the evolution of the economy and social structures.

Fahm said this recently in the paper, ‘Path to Progress/Influence of Science and Technology on a Progressive Society’, which he presented at the third Professor Ayodele Awojobi Design Competition at the University of Lagos.

The competition was organised by the Faculty of Engineering for universities across the country, in a bid discover workable solutions to various challenges in the country.

According to Fahm, knowledge and skills are the critical components needed to align with the reality of a global knowledge society, adding that developing entrepreneurial skills in primary or secondary, post-secondary schools and continuing education, is important not only for future managers of new ventures, but for established enterprises, as students need flexibility in knowledge, social skills and adaptability.

“This will make them to become more effective team members and managers, to better support and develop innovation in organisations and society

“To successfully tackle problems, Nigeria needs to extract and make use of every particle of its most valuable assets, which is the talent of our students.

“To meet the global challenges that confront us all, Nigeria will have to rely not only on the scientists and engineers, but on its experts in the humanities and social sciences, who can put such global challenges in a human perspective.

“In the decades ahead, universities will be at the heart of the way in which our country responds to these challenges and satisfies our societies’ aspiration for equality, development and growth,” he said.

Fahm added that schools, vocational institutions, colleges and adult learning centres, as well as universities should be incubators of exploration and invention, adding that educators should be collaborators in learning, seeking knowledge and constantly acquiring new skills, alongside their students.

He stressed that education leaders must set a vision for creating learning experiences that provide the right tools and supports for all learners to thrive.

In his remarks, the Vice-Chancellor of UNILAG, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe described the competition as a major way of bringing to the fore, the ingenuity in young minds by challenging them to push the boundaries of science, technology and other areas of human endeavour in solving problems in the country.

“What we are doing here today is to discover innovation that will migrate to entrepreneurship and has commercial value.”

He announced plans by the institution to register a limited liability company for the students and shop for mentors for such group of students.

“We already have support from the Bank of Industry and other organisations that will now offer between N I million to N2 million as start up grants for students.”

The Dean, Faculty of Engineering, Prof. Funsho kolade said the event was also to celebrate the legacy of Awojobi, a Professor of Mechanical Engineering, who served the country meritoriously.

He said it is also about looking at the pressing need of the society and finding immediate and lasting solutions through the creative minds of Nigerian students in the country.

The Chairman, Planning Committee of the competition, Mr. Adedayo Aruwajoye said five universities across the country that have made it to the final round would be presenting solutions to key areas of needs such as health, education, financial technology and waste management.

“We are out to encourage, promote and push innovation in the country among the youth. There is this concern that a lot of things are not going on fine in the country, but there is really no platform that can solve these problems.

“So competitions such as this, is one of such platforms that is encouraging youths, that is undergraduates in all tertiary institutions in the country, regardless of their courses or programmes.

“And that is why we call for application from all the departments across board. The essence is just to discover new ideas.”

Students from the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, University of Ibadan, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria were among the last five competitors, out of the over 500 applications submitted.

A cash prize of N1 million was awarded to the team from the University of Ibadan as the winner, while N800,00 and 700,000 went to the second and third positions respectively.