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Ogundipe Innovative Challenge: Odumuyiwa seeks ‘disruption’ of Nigeria’s education system

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The Acting Director of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) IT Hub (NITHub), at the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Akoka, Mr. Victor Odumuyiwa, is  seeking for the  ‘disruption’  Nigeria’s education system to align with goals and not just the processes.

Odumuyiwa stated this while speaking as a Guest Lecturer at the second edition of Professor Ogundipe Innovative Challenge (POIC) – an initiative of Professor Ogundipe Innovation and Science Foundation (POISF).

Speaking on the theme: “Empowering Tomorrow: Unleashing the Potentials of Gen Z for Disruptive Innovation”, the lecturer, who queried the design, curriculums, and length of academic programmes offered by Nigerian tertiary institutions, said what took place on the campuses is merely the offering of courses and not proper learning.

According to him, innovation is paramount for Nigeria’s economic growth, global competitiveness, national security, and resource efficiency.

Criticizing the country’s education system, Odumuyiwa said the Generation Z, described as those born between the years 1997 and 2010, “are characterized as inventors, artists, and entrepreneurs, and so do not have the patience to focus on theories but practicals”.

The Guest Lecturer said: “I still wonder who decided to make some degrees five-year or four-year courses. At MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), what is important is to take a certain number of courses, and brilliant students could decide to finish in three years what is designed for five years, and they are awarded their certificates.

“What happens in our institutions is no longer learning but just offering courses. We need to disrupt the processes to allow innovations and creativities which this generation is known for.”

Advising the participants, particularly the young innovators, to prioritize patience, strategic partnerships, collaboration and identify platforms for opportunities, as enablers of growth, he added: “Ideas alone don’t rule the world but implementers of ideas do”.

In his speech, the immediate past Vice-Chancellor of UNILAG, a researcher and Professor of Botany, in whose name the competition and a foundation was instituted, Professor Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, said it was the creation of the students and a select staff of the Faculty of Science where he once served as the dean.

Ogundipe said he was only approached to provide support, and that he never imagined that the initiative would germinate so quickly.

“So, we are not here to celebrate Ogundipe but the students of the Faculty of Science who in their wisdom, and with the guidance of their lecturers, came up with this idea. They even went on to register a Foundation as a platform to nurture the idea. The programme started in 2019 and from what I have seen, this project will be taken far beyond what it has become today”, Ogundipe stated.

The former VC thanked dignitaries in attendance including the founder of the institution’s Chemical Engineering Department, Ayo Ogunye; the Lagos State Governor and his deputy, Babajide Sanwo-Olu and Obafemi Hamzat respectively, who were represented on the occasion.

In her remarks, the Vice Chancellor of UNILAG, Professor Folasade Ogunsola, commended the participants in the challenge, particularly the finalists, urging them to take charge of their future by being innovative and creative, saying there are limited jobs available to serve everyone.

Prof. Ogunsola said: “We’re a country of an estimated 223 million people, and 70 per cent are youth. But one thing we surely do not have in large supply are jobs waiting for them. The future can only happen by creating new jobs, creating new enterprises, and new businesses for people to conquer.

“At the University of Lagos, what we are working intentionally to produce are those who will create jobs and create new entities. And so we’re focused on ensuring that innovation happens and not just about sharing knowledge. Professor Ogundipe as the 12th vice-chancellor took innovation and entrepreneurship to new heights, and I’m not surprised we are celebrating the second edition of POIC.”

The UNILAG VC added: “And I want to ask for the young people here. Think outside the box, think about how you’re going to make Nigeria the best in the world and that can only happen by challenging your mind and looking for solutions to problems”.

Meanwhile, Team Neptune from UNILAG with a project on bioengineering, which emerged winner of the competition,won N1 million cash prize and free training from Opolo Global Innovation, a hub for talent promotion.

Team Horizon from the Lagos State University (LASU), which came second with an idea on technology for farmers, won N750,000 and free training from Opolo Global Innovation Hub.

Team Ilucens, also from UNILAG, and Tfree from the University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN), which emerged in third and fourth positions with their ideas on food processing and health technology, received N500,000 and 100,000 with free training from Opolo Global Innovation Hub, respectively.

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