The Africa Centre of Excellence (ACE) Project is an initiative of the World Bank, co-funded by the Bank and Agence Francaise de Developpement (AFD). The Association of African Universities (AAU) is the Regional Facilitation Unit (RFU) while the National Universities Commission is the coordinating Unit for such centres in Nigeria. In 2019, Lagos State University was approved to host the Africa Centre of Excellence in Innovative and Transformative STEM Education (ACEITSE) LASU’s ACEITSE is one of the ACE Impact centres of excellence in 12 West and Central African countries.
The Centre was conceived to address the developmental challenge through the production of innovative and transformative master teachers who will inspire learning in STEM subjects through the delivery of a range of engaging, contextual and technology-mediated teacher professional development programmes.
Over the last two decades, there has been a growing demand in Nigeria and in other West African countries for better quality STEM teachers. Universities and other teacher preparation institutions in the sub-region have responded with strategic plans to step up their output of such teachers. Unfortunately, the results of implementing such plans have been unimpressive on account of resource deficits and the low student intake into the system. If this trend continues, a rather gloomy future has been predicted for socio-economic development of Nigeria and other countries in the sub-region realising the critical roles of science and technology to development and the central role of STEM teachers in this enterprise (Okebukola, 2016; 2017). What is urgently needed are delivery systems that will address the observed deficiencies in training quality STEM teachers and provide a model for training master trainers in STEM subjects. ACEISTE will provide an excellent example of achieving this goal.
The Science and Technology Education Department of Lagos State University with all its programmes in full accreditation standing with the National Universities Commission the host of Centre. The department (in previous and current nomenclatures) has a 30-year national and international reputation for innovative models of training STEM teachers. At the national level, since 1988, staff and graduates of the department have been recognised at national workshops and conferences for their competence in delivering quality STEM education (see STAN Proceedings 1998-2017 and Proceedings of STAN workshops, 1988-2017 in biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, computer studies and environmental education).
At the international level, staff and students of the department to hosting the Centre have been globally recognised for their research-inspired innovative models of teaching STEM. In the last five years, no STEM education research group in Africa has been given competitive visibility at international conferences of the National Association of Research in Science Teaching (NARST), the world’s No. 1 STEM research group as the LASU group. Worthy of remark also is that the Director of the Centre is the only African in the 80-year history of NARST to serve two successful terms on the Board of Directors of NARST and up until 2017, served as the chair of the Association’s most prestigious committee (see for example, NARST conference proceedings from 1998 to 2017).
The rich corpus of experience and empirically-validated efficiency of the LASU group gives confidence that the Centre will multiply several times, its impact in training innovative STEM teachers. The department also has national fame in e-learning delivery and training of teachers having successfully implemented the Lagos State Government-Lagos State University E-learning Programme for the highest number of students and teachers in one intervention session in Nigeria.