STEM EDUCATION: Lagos Partners Smithsonian Museum Institute
The Lagos State Ministry of Education has partnered the Smithsonian Museum Science Institute, USA on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education aimed at improving education in public schools across the State. The Honourable Commissioner for Education, Mrs. Folasade Adefisayo, who disclosed this on Tuesday during the presentation of certificates to officials of the Ministry in Ikeja, added that the Smithsonian Museum Science Institute offered a generous grant to have officers of the Ministry involved in curriculum improvement as well as to participate in their annual intensive week-long institute training which is held every July. She said the annual event is a forum where teams of educators, administrators and stakeholders from across the world converge to gain an in-depth understanding of the Leadership and Assistance for Science Education Reform (LASER) model in order to apply it to strategic planning for their varied communities. According to her “With the challenges and demands of a technology-driven economy in the very near future, the State needs to place elevated importance on STEM Education by creating a steady pipeline of skilled personnel to meet these demands as it remains germane for the actualisation of the Smart City initiative”. She revealed that the Smithsonian Museum Science Institute is a renowned group of museums and research centres administered by the United States Government and was established as far back as 1846 as a learning Institution concerned with enhancing science. In her words: “The Smithsonian Education Centre (SSEC) mission is to transform and improve the learning and teaching of science for Primary and Secondary School students. Their work is centred on the establishment of effective science programmes for all students”. “SSEC creates awareness for K-12 science education reform among State and District leaders, through their programmes that lead to the professional development of teachers and administrators. The educational mission of the Smithsonian Education Centre has been a global drive towards attaining research and curriculum development transformation through their teaching and learning of science”, she added. The Commissioner, therefore, stressed that driving the infusion of STEM teaching and learning methodology in the basic educational curriculum of Lagos State to encourage students become innovators and problem-solvers, instead of becoming sole consumers of knowledge remain crucial if the State must prepare the students for the future. “We also should ensure that our State is a stem literate-society that would produce a crop of intellectually enhanced students who will grow to contribute meaningfully towards the development of their communities, corporate firms and the economy at large”, the Commissioner averred. Adefisayo reiterated that the Lagos State Government remains firmly committed to innovative and high-quality education standards, adding that the collaboration with Smithsonian Museum Science Institute is a welcome intervention towards the development of Science as well as capacity building for leadership development in Lagos. She noted that the setting up of Stem Education was geared towards integrating STEM into the curriculum while the infusion of Education and Technology was a catalyst for overseeing the operation or implementation of Stem practices in the classroom. The Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on STEM Education, Ms. Adetola Salau, an Engineer and a Certified Expert in STEM pedagogy, stated that due to the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, the week-long training was shifted to a fully virtual leadership development event in July, 2020. She disclosed that the programme was designed as a series of live meetings, emphasising that during the training individuals and teams were expected to tackle the challenge of ensuring Science Education remains a critical component of their classrooms and contexts. “Participants attended sessions on relevant topics including social-emotional learning, equity, and accessibility. On the days of attendance, the participants were to develop and share action plans to articulate their strategies for facilitating non-traditional learning experiences in their communities. The same grant from the in-person programme was extended to the Lagos State Ministry of Education team for inclusion in the virtual workshop”, she noted.