Thursday, April 4, 2019
Pikesville, Maryland, USA

t is not just a coincidence that Oyo State of Nigeria has become sandwiched between two or more Engineers in the new political dispensation. In actual fact, there are more than two Engineers involved in the multilayered sandwich scenario. Surrounding these two giant Engineers are the 'significant others' as Engineers of repute. The Oyo State Governor is an Engineer, the Deputy Governor is an Engineer, the Oyo State First Lady is an Engineer and many Senior Advisers of the Governor are reputable Veteran Engineers, such as the Sahara Engineers. There is no doubt that Oyo state now has several opportunities to promote its educational development in the Science, Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) area of education for a change.

Apart from the Engineering influence on Oyo State education, it will also be better positioned to improve its infrastructural development. Most probably the State might be nearer an ingenious installation of new and novel 'Anti-NEPA' electricity supply to bring Oyo State out of darkness. With the recent calls from many quarters for independent power generation by many States of Nigeria, it is the best time to free the nation from the disturbing noise of generators in neighbourhoods and the unprecedented air pollution from the carbon monoxide/dioxide exhausts of generators. This provides such great opportunity for these Engineers to consider the introduction of the Solar or other power generating options for the State of Oyo. Delving into the Solar generated energy for the State will jump start job creation and alleviate the high unemployment rate, which has led to the insecurity of the society. Millions of our jobless youths have turned miscreants in communities as a result of their idleness. Many youths will have to be trained and equipped with the needed skills to make them useful to the society. Uninterrupted power supply will be the result of such independent power generation initiative from government. For how long do we have to wait on Government to bail us out of darkness while generator dealers continue to rip us off?

In the digital era in which Nigeria has now found herself, there is no running away from STEM in a generation where the world has been shrunk into a small global village. It will be increasingly difficult to survive without some basic scientific knowledge and awareness in the next decade or so, even in the rural areas of the world. The struggle for survival has begun and nations must string along with the rest of the world in the area of technology or get left behind in the global race. Oyo State of Nigeria has thus become lucky to have at the helms of affairs, the right type of people in the right side of governance at this most opportune time. In the light of the foregoing, the questions now are 'what next and where do we start from in our educational struggle?' We will need to catch our children young.

This is the time for laying new foundations and repairing the old structures while education at all levels needs to be restructured to accommodate the new trend in STEM re-invigoration. The new Governor Seyi Makinde's (GSM) administration will have no second chance to make the first impression as an Engineer-led government of Oyo State. The Oyo State educational orientation and new direction must tilt towards STEM in the next four to eight years. Education at all levels from the basic education level must start to sow the seed of STEM in our children early enough to breed a new set of scientists for the future.

Teacher Education must be revolutionized. Teacher education through improved training and retraining must be restructured to yield some well-bred science teachers at both the Primary and Secondary Education levels. The technology of teaching and learning must be re-engineered to bring the best out of our teachers and children. Schools supervision and inspection has to be revisited to inject some sanity into the teaching profession. The teaching profession needs a shakeup to bring education up to par with others in the global village.

Infrastructural development must be a top priority of the new Engineer-led government of Oyo State. Quite apart from the general bad shape of infrastructural development in the State, our school environments must be restructured to be capable of promoting teaching and learning. The conditions of learning in schools today does not promote active learning as it should, in view of the dilapidated infrastructures and the make-shift classrooms. We need the new look environments to promote STEM and other school subject to bring the best out of our children in conducive learning environments.

Teachers need to be encouraged, if we are interested in putting teaching in the pride of place in the Nigerian society. Research and other evidences abound in the last few decades that many people do not want to opt for the teaching profession. This is mainly because of the stigma placed on the teaching profession that it is only those who have nothing else to do who go to teach and this is a shame. If there will continue to be schools and teachers must man theses schools then we will continue to need teachers. For how long do we (the Nigerian society) want to debase education and teaching as a profession? The teaching profession needs to be put in the pride of place by increasing teacher incentives and according teachers the recognition and rewards they deserve in the society.

Oyo State of Nigeria as a Pace-Setter State, needs to set the pace in the promotion of STEM and in putting teachers at the top of the professional pedestal ladder in Nigeria. Active teaching and learning must begin to take place in Oyo State schools at all levels. Oyo State qualifies to be called the Knowledge Headquarters of Nigeria and indeed Africa with many schools, Universities and Institutions at various levels and disciplines in all nooks and cronies of Ibadan. Research Centers abound for promoting and exchanging research-based knowledge with other scholars around the world. What with the Institutions and Knowledge Centers located in other States surrounding Oyo State? While the Silicon Valley promotes Technology in America, Oyo State Knowledge Headquarters or Center can make not only Oyo State but also the entire Nigeria Nation proud.

What we now need is for the Oyo State Engineer-led government to lead in STEM promotion and as usual, and others will follow the Pace-Setter! Everyone is optimistic that the best is yet to come and Oyo State will not disappoint its well-wishers. Perhaps this is the time to start to place less emphasis on certification at the expense of skills possession. We may also be setting the pace in this direction. Too much emphasis is currently been placed on certificates at all costs encouraging corruption and dishonesty on the part of students and schools. Many parents can go all lengths to ensure the certification of their children through the fraudulent means (corruption) at the expense of skills possession. The trend now is to get certificated rather than possessing the requisite skills for jobs. This bad trend has to change as a matter of urgency. The era of globalization call for skills possession rather than certification without skills for the jobs.