The World Bank has aptly identified and strongly stressed that skills development is at the center of changes happening in education and labour markets amid the global mega trends, such as automation, action against climate change, the digitalization of products and services, and a shrinking labour force, which are changing the nature of work and skills demands.
Consequently, skills and workforce development systems must proactively adapt to fast transformations posed by automation, climate action, digitalization, and the evolving labour markets.
These evolving trends will redefine the paradigms of education and workforce development systems globally.
In the dynamic landscape of the modern global labour market, education and workforce development systems must become more personalized, accessible (allowing for remote and hybrid learning), and continuous along throughout workers’ careers– placing “skills development” at the heart of these global transitions.
Nigeria is richly endowed with abundant natural resources and many favourable conditions, but harnessing these endowments adequately for sustainable economic growth and development has been a challenge.
This has resulted into many negative consequences including high levels of Unemployment, Underemployment, Poverty and Youth Restiveness amongst teeming citizens.
Successive Governments have thus, viewed with serious concern these consequences and had sought to; Create decent jobs in sufficient quantities, lay foundation for a robust and inclusive growth within the Nigerian economy, get the nation Industrialised and improve on a sustainable basis, the well-being of all Nigerians.
Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) had equally been directed to develop enabling Policies, Programmes and Strategies aimed at promoting skills development for job and wealth creation. However, more effort is expected in the development of a critical mass of technically skilled manpower as no country can attain industrial and socio-economic growth without it.
In resolving the issue of low skills level among Nigeria populace, the Government as well as other stakeholders have invested heavily in skills acquisition programmes. Investing heavily in skills supply without recourse to empirical evidence on Labour Market Information (LMI) often result in skills gap and mismatches.
The Empowering The Teachers ETT, fellowship, is a typical example of such skill support initiative which the TotalEnergies and the Nigerian National Petroleum Company, NNPCL, is providing.
The initiative is in collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and was established in 2010 to provide a platform for knowledge exchange between Nigerian scholars and their counterparts in the United States.
Young Nigerian academics with backgrounds in science and engineering who have completed their doctorate studies are selected through a rigorous process to spend one intense semester at MIT to acquire advanced teaching skills. By introducing the ETT Fellows to cutting-edge student-focused teaching methods, the programme aims to drive innovation in science and engineering education in tertiary academic institutions in Africa.
While at MIT, the Nigerian academics are expected to develop new course content for their home universities by observing instructions in their own disciplines and subjects and exploring curricular enrichment and reform through both formal and informal interaction with the MIT community.
The vision of the programme is to have Nigerian tertiary institutions produce graduates who are ready for the demands of today’s job market and equipped with hands-on problem- solving and critical thinking capabilities. The ETT programme covers the basic travel, living, and instructional materials expenses of participants, while the home universities of fellows commit to providing paid leave of absence during the event.
Some of the benefits of the fellowship include the fact that it allows participants to expand their professional network and become change agents by introducing new innovations in teaching upon their return to their home country.
Since 2010, 100 university lecturers from across Nigeria have benefited from this prestigious program.
Empower The Teachers fellowship programme is indeed a a thrilling one which was born out of the idea to bring young African professors to the global stage and nurture them to become agents of change in the African Educational landscape.
This came into being as it was observed that African graduates were not competitive at the world stage and thought that this many have arisen from how the curriculum was put together the method of delivery and how the students are assessed.
The idea originated from Antonin Fotso, who at the time was the Secretary General of TotalEnergies (Africa) and had interfaces with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology while organising seminars for senior executives of TotalEnergies.
The core vision of this initiative was to develop a new African faculty leadership in science and engineering to transform the subjects in tertiary institutions and produce graduates who are problem solvers, more creative, more innovative, and competitive with the rest of the world.
It was thereafter agreed that the initiative should focus on young African academics who could use the newfound knowledge to develop science and engineering education in their home universities for a longer period. We wanted a system that could look at how the teachers were affecting the students through their work.
Fosto, said, “Looking back today, I believe the program has succeeded beyond the initial objectives and has developed into a brand that has made highly successful young lecturers want to be part of it. I am also excited to see several universities organise widely attended workshops that disseminate the core principles of the ETT programme to young faculty members. Perhaps the most gratifying to me has been the response of ETT fellows to the COVID-19 problem in the way they organised research and development efforts to address the problem in the spirit of “problem solving” they picked up at MIT.”
“As we celebrate the success of the ETT today, I’ll like to challenge fellows and potential candidates for this great initiative to strive even harder to “get the job done at all times. I encourage cohorts “to own this programme” as this will guarantee more future successes. While looking forward to the sustainability of this project, it is my desire to see more top-quality graduates produced from Nigerian and African universities.”
Fosto continued, “In the early 2000s, in a post-merger context that gave birth to the current TotalEnergies group, the new company’s societal approach gave priority to supporting education and skills development
“From the position I held (Group Senior Executive, VP Learning, Education & Talent development), I felt a profound responsibility to focus on Africa. due to its significance to the Group
“As a long-standing board member of educational institutions (Mission Laique Francaise, IFP Training, etc.), EMPOWERING THE TEACHERS created in 2010 was the culmination of maintaining a good international network with the education sector, particularly with MIT, and a bit of personal commitment.”
The fundamental idea behind these endeavors was to equip teachers with superior resources and experiences from renowned institutions worldwide. The goal was to empower young professors in African universities, enabling them to access knowledge in these centers of excellence and build on it upon their return in Africa. By doing so, they will succeed to contribute to the growth and development of African universities as hubs of knowledge acquation.
Celebrating Decades Of Initiative
The Managing Director, TotalEnergies Upstream Nigeria
Limited, Mr. Matthieu Bouyer, speaking at the ETT Symposium in Lagos, said the programme is another educational initiative that TotalEnergies, in collaboration with NNPC Limited and partners, which has continued to invest in to further improve the quality of learning in Nigeria.
Under the ETT programme, academics selected from African universities spend
one intensive and inclusive semester acquiring knowledge on the innovative and
cutting-edge teaching methods used at the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology to mould students into industry-ready products.
Bouyer said the aim of this is to foster new ways of teaching science and engineering in African tertiary institutions in a bid to produce experts in that field who can compete with their counterparts in other regions of the world in terms of critical thinking and problem-solving abilities.
The experience of the academics at MIT is expected to culminate in the development of new courses and the modification of existing ones in a bid to revolutionise science and engineering teaching in African tertiary institutions.
In Nigeria, for example, Bouyer said the partners are glad to see the impact the MIT-ETT scheme is already making in tertiary education.
Since 2013, over 90 university lecturers have benefited from the programme in the country and partners are excited for the promise the near future holds for science and engineering education in Nigeria, especially because as we expect more lecturers to benefit from this knowledgeexchange programme.
Interestingly, TotalEnergies’ contributions to education development in Nigeria
and indeed Africa go beyond the MIT-ETT scheme; all across the sector, the
company’s footprints are visible.
He said further, For instance, in December 2023, we celebrated the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Institute of Petroleum and Energy Studies, which is the fruit of a partnership between the Institut Francais du Petrole (IFP School) and the
University of Port Harcourt, Rivers State. Since its inception in 2003, IPES has
produced hundreds of MSc. graduates in Petroleum Engineering and Project
Development, and post-graduate diploma holders in Petroleum Technology.
Graduates of the IPES programme are today spread throughout the oil and gas
industry, adding value in different ways to the sector.
He said the engagement with the institute is, however, not limited to funding alone. TotalEnergies also provides practical learning opportunities to MSc and PGD graduates through postgraduation internships and mentoring. Our employees, subject experts in their various fields, volunteer to join the faculty of the IPES, providing relevant
That is not all as not too long ago, TotalEnergies donated truckloads of geoscience
equipment to six universities across the country, including the University of
Lagos, the Federal University of Technology, Akure, the University of Ilorin, the
University of Ibadan, the University of Port Harcourt, and the University of
The company has also invested in various scholarship schemes, including the
National Merit Scholarship Scheme, from which over 30,000 students have
benefited since 2003.
The TotalEnergies International Scholarship, jointly sponsored by NNPC Ltd. and partners, has equally seen several Nigerians undergo post-graduate studies overseas, with over 150 graduates since inception.
There is also the Community Scholarship Scheme, which has existed
since 1973 and has benefitted hundreds of students in host communities across
Nigeria at the undergraduate and post graduate level.
Indeed, he said TotalEnergies is proud to be linked to all these educational interventions because they all align with Goal # 4 of the United Nations Sustainable
Development Goals, which calls for “inclusive and equitable quality education
and promotion of lifelong learning opportunities for all”. These investments are
important to us as they are in sync with our internal sustainability KPIs, one of
which is creating value for society.
This event is coming at a historic time in TotalEnergies’ operations in Nigeria.
Having contributed immensely to the development of this great country over
the last 60 years and a worldwide pioneer in producing energies for 100 years
we are proud of our remarkable journey and the huge potential that this new
As a responsible organisation, TotalEnergies has continued to ensure that the
impacts of all its operations are managed in a way that helps preserve the
environment, biodiversity, and freshwater resources in a bid to promote an
Also, the company’s commitment to achieving net-zero emissions by
2050 along with society and transitioning to low carbon energy solutions for a
cleaner and safer environment remains as assured as ever.
NNPCL Assures Of Improved Collaboration
The Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, NNPCL on its part has restated its commitment to ongoing partnership with TotalEnergies to implement sustainable community development projects that will positively impact the lives of the citizens of Nigeria.
Chief Upstream Investment Officer, of the NNPCL, Upstream Investment Management Services , NUIMS, Bala Wunti, who gave the assurance in Lagos yesterday, at the 2024 Symposium and Awards, of the NNPCL/TotalEnergies Empowering The Teacher, ETT, programme, recalled that the NNPCL along with its partners have implemented various intervention programmes and projects especially in the areas of education, skill acquisition, economic empowerment, healthcare, provision of solar power and other infrastructure intervention projects.
Wunti, notes that the Company and TotalEnergies fully understand that investing in education means investing in the future and that the collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT, reflects their shares belief in the transformative power of knowledge and the importance of empowering teachers with the tools necessary to foster critical thinking, innovation, the curriculum and a global perspective.
According to him, education is the cornerstone of progress and when a programme like Empowering The Teachers aligns forces with an institution of the caliber of MIT, we witness the fusion of innovations excellence, and global collaboration, adding, “Together, we had embarked on this journey to uplift and empower educators who play integral role in sculpting the minds of the next generation since 2010.”
Wunti, continued by saying that empowering the Teachers Program is not just an initiative but a commitment to nurturing the growth and development of our society through the empowerment of those who mold the next generation.
He said the NNPCL/ Totalenergies recognize the profound impact that dedicated educators can have on the lives of their students and the communities they serve.
He therefore, congratulated those honoured during the event for well- deserved recognition, saying, “Your commitment to excellence and your tireless efforts in the pursuit of knowledge inspire us all. Your role extends beyond the dissemination of information; you are the catalysts for change, the architects of progress, and the mentors who guide future leaders.”