About twenty-five (25) Professors, eleven (11) PhD holders and other qualified experts in teaching and learning of science subjects were assembled by the Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF) on a train the trainer programme on how to take advantage of technology to simulate laboratory experiments in virtual form for the delivery of Science, Technology and Mathematics (STEM) across 6000 secondary schools in Nigeria.
The Executive Secretary, PTDF, Dr Bello Aliyu Gusau, while opening the 7-day training exercise at the PTDF headquarters in Abuja, said that the experts were invited from various universities and centres of excellence to serve as resource persons for the training of more teachers across the length and breadth of the country in the Fund’s effort to breach the existing gaps in the learning and teaching of core science subjects across our secondary schools.
Represented by Deputy General Manager, Education and Training Department, Mrs Rabia’h Waziri Adamu, who is also the PTDF STEM Team lead, pointed out that although the Fund usually limits its intervention to tertiary education, it, however, finds it necessary to intervene and address a foundational weakness in science leaning which the Fund noticed during the implementation of its educational programmes and projects.
“As you all know, PTDF only intervened at the tertiary level, but in the course of the implementation of our educational programmes, we noticed weaknesses in some of the science subjects, so we decided to institute the STEM programme to assist our students at the secondary school level because it’s better to catch them young. The programme is mainly teacher-focused, which explains why its major component is teacher training, and I think towards achieving that objective, we achieve several milestones with the support of our experts”.
Among the achievements recorded, according to her, include the review of the teachers guide manual, which has not been done for the past ten years, and the production of teaching manual produced from two workshops organized by the PTDF in conjunction with the National Educational Research Development Council (NERDC). She added that the next step is the provision of relevant hard and softwarerequired to realize the PTDF STEM programme objectives.
In his remark, Director Curriculum Development Centre, NERDC, Dr Garba Dahiru Gwandu, described the exercise as the first of its kind in the history of teachers’ training, especially as it relates to building their capacity in the curriculum delivery for STEM education in Nigeria. He said the exercise cannot be done at a better time than now that the desire for STEM education becomes a universal quest that Nigeria cannot afford to be left behind.
“it’s the first of its kind given the scope of the training programme, it will cover the length and breadth of this country, not only will it do that, it will deepen itself in terms of impact because the target beneficiaries have been identified through a means that has never been done in Nigeria. It went to grassroots to get the schools and select real teachers to be trained on it rather than the ones usually sent to attend programmes. It’s by no means an achievement”.
He said the programme strives to attain the objective of the PTDF as it will focus on innovation, creativity, critical thinking, problem-solving and all that it takes in terms of effective pedigrees to raise the capacity of teachers to be able to deliver and take care of the foundational issues so identified.
Professor Brian Woodfield, renowned virtual software expert and Professor of chemistry at Brigham Young University, in Provo, Utah in the United States and co-founder and creator of Beyond Labs and Virtual Labs, was invited by the PTDF to train the experts on the modules of the software and virtual laboratory which he said is one of the best thinking for the country to invest in the future of its young people.
“I was invited to come and provide training for a group of professors and teachers on how to use our product called Beyond Labs, a virtual lab that will be used in high schools in Nigeria. It is a high fidelity, sophisticated virtual labs software that covers most of the science courses you would teach at high school and university and has many activities that guide students on how to go through the labs and do experiments through open-ended accurate virtual labs obtained globally. It is a million-dollar piece of equipment that virtually gives them access to real equipment“.
Some of the participants interviewed by the PTDF Digest expressed satisfaction with the quality of the training. They affirmed that when finally deployed, it will go a long way in enhancing their effective delivery in teaching the core science subjects and, most importantly, expose students to practical realities of their educational experiments, which will ultimately breed a well-equipped science student in Nigeria. The participants commended the PTDF for the opportunity accorded them to learn the 21st century global best practices.
Press and External Relations Unit, PTDF
March 24th, 2022