Okebukola’s trajectory in Nigeria’s academic landscape has been a phenomenal success. At the age of 19, he began his career as a science teacher at Holy Saviour’s College, Mushin, Lagos. He also taught in several other schools, including Ososa Grammar School, Ijebu-Ososa, Ogun State where, he at the age of 23 headed the department of Science; Christ Apostolic Church Teachers College, EfonAlaaye, Ekiti State; Okemesi Grammar School and Oyo State College of Education, Ilesha, between 1974 and 1984.
In 1984, he joined Lagos State University as a Senior Lecturer and rose to become the Dean, Faculty of Education, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and later, Acting Vice-Chancellor of the Institution, in 1996. He was also a Visiting Professor at the Curtin University of Technology, Perth, Australia. At various levels he distinguished himself as a cerebral scholar with remarkable footprints of excellence.
His appointment as the Executive Secretary of National Universities Commission, NUC, by the Olusegun Obasanjo administration, in 2001, marked a positive turning point for university education and administration in Nigeria. In the six years – 2001-2007 – he was in the leadership saddle at NUC, he superintended over the quality assurance of the 75 universities in Nigeria.
The spectrum of quality assurance activities that he undertook include setting new benchmarks and minimum standards for the country’s universities, conducting system-wide accreditation of programmes leading to application of sanctions on failed programmes, shutting down of illegal satellite campuses of universities, contextualisation of the United Nations Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO/ Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, OECD, guidelines on cross-border higher education, establishment of ten-twenty new private universities and their annual quality audit as well as the development of strategies for institutional accreditation.
Motivated by a strong desire to champion a new direction in Nigeria’s education sector, he recommended that government at all levels should conscientiously devote a minimum of 26 per cent of their annual budget to education to rescue the nation’s tertiary institutions, in particular, from staggering crisis of catering for a student population far greater than their capacity, and the sector as a whole from wallowing in chaos.
As a researcher, his efforts have gravitated on five central themes – higher education, computer in education and e-learning, co-operative learning, metacognitive strategies in science education, environment education, and eco-cultural influences on the learning of science concepts. These efforts have resulted in over 130 internationally published works and no less than 120 national and international conferences presentations. Many of his publications can be found in the world’s top science education, computer education, and environmental education journals.
Born on 17 February 1951 in Ilesha, Osun State, South-West Nigeria, to Pa Daniel and Madam Lydia Okebukola, both of blessed memory, Peter finished his secondary education at St. Malachy’s College, Sapele, now Delta State, in 1967, where he was adjudged the Best Overall student in the West African Schools Certificate Examination. He proceeded to Remo Secondary School, Sagamu for his GCE Advanced Level programme. In 1969, he won the John F. Kennedy Essay competition.He attended the prestigious University of Ibadan, where he obtained his Bachelor’s degree in 1973. Between 1979 and 1984, he earned his Master’s and Ph.D degrees in Science Education from the same university. Significantly, he enjoyed federal government scholarship for his undergraduate and postgraduate pursuits.
Peter Okebukola went for specialised training at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT, and Harvard University, both in Cambridge, United States of America. A specialist in Higher Education, Science, Computer and environmental education, he is the first African to win the United Nations Scientific Cultural Organisation’s Kalinga Prize for Communication and Popularisation of Science, in 1993. He has served as Consultant to a number of international organisations. They include United Nations Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO; United Nations Children’s Education Fund,UNICEF; United Nations Development Project, UNDP, and The World Bank.
A fellow of the Board of the International Academy of Education and member of the Executive Board of the International Association for Research in Science Teaching, Okebukola is currently the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman in Council of University of Osun State, Oshogbo; Crawford University, Igbesa, Ogun State and University of Education, Ikere-Ekiti, in Ekiti State. He has won several international gold medals in science and computer education and he is in on the Editorial Board of 25 national and 18 international journals.