By AUSTIN OWOICHO, Abuja
Total Exploration and Production Nigeria has concluded plans to train nine Nigerian lecturers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) as part of efforts to build local capacity in the Nigerian oil and gas industry.
Speaking at the panel interview session for shortlisted candidates, for the MIT-Empowering the Teachers (ETT) 2020 Fall/2021 Spring Fellowship, Manager Diversity, Total, Mr Azu Azuike, disclosed the successful lecturers would be undergoing a one-semester training at the MIT.
He added that the MIT-ETT project was part of Total’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programme, done in conjunction with its partners.
Azuike disclosed that the best nine lecturers would be selected from 250 shortlisted candidates from about 500 applications from various university lectures in the country.
“For this specific season, we had almost 500 lecturers that applied globally. Of these 500, 250 were actually qualified to be at this last level.
“We normally screen it down to only 20 lecturers for the panel interview, so, we have to do a whole lot of screening down and effectively, we are taking less than 10 per cent of the qualified.
“It is very stringent and what you are seeing here are like best of the best, so to speak,’’ he said.
He noted that each of the shortlisted candidates would make two presentations of a research work and teaching skills.
“We hold a general assessment, we look at the research work and see how well the person have grasp of the work and if you can teach it,’’ he added
Azuike said that since the inception of the programme in the country in 2010, it had impacted positively on the academia and by extension, the oil and gas industry.
He noted that before the inception of the programme, the industry expectation was not matching with the kind of graduates that the academia was churning out.
He said that the expectation of Total from the programme was to ensure an academia that would be able to produce student that could match the needs of the industry to help in solving problems.
“What we have seen so far is very impressive, quite a lot of them impacted the curriculum completely, partially and we have written to the Nigerian Universities Commission (NUC) that is responsible for the universities, to take a look at what impact the programme is having on the academia,’’ he said.
He noted that Total is working on gathering all the beneficiaries of the programme to help in replicating what they have learnt in various universities.
He added that currently, all the universities in the country, state, federal and private were qualified to apply for the programme.
He said that Total was talking with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to get other international oil companies (IOC) involved to help expand the number of participants in the programme.
Also speaking, Profrazor Akintunde Ibitayo Akinwande, of MIT’s Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department, stated that most of the lecturers who had passed through the programme had improved on what they do on individual basis.
He said that some of them had also tried to do systemic changes, some at the teaching level, some at the mentoring level and at visionary level.
“I think things have succeded because we have started to see tangible results. At the end of the day, it is what the students can do that matter most.
“The focus in the past used to be what students can remember and by changing the focus from that, it has really made the students that are coming out of the school to be more competitive in respect to work,’’ he said.
He noted that the most Universities in the country were currently benefiting from the alumni members of MIT through various forms of seminars, laboratory equipment, among others.
One of the Paticipant, Dr. Tinuola Udoh of the Department Of Chemical/Petrochemical Engineering, Akwa Ibom State University, stated that the programme had a lot to help develop and improve teaching in the university.
“It is a privilege to be able to address this kind of audience and be able to talk to them, be able to talk about what you are doing.
“I see this as an opportunity I am looking for to develop myself; I see it as an opportunity to be exposed and to learn how to improve what I am doing because one of the thing that is really my desire is to improve the teachings system in our universities,” she said.
Speaking in the same vein, another shortlisted candidate, Dr Blessing Eboibi of Delta State University said, “it is a good programme because it helps people in the academics, giving them exposure, get better training and when they come back, they are better in their work to serve the country better .’’