4th December, 2014
By Olalekan Olagunju
Education has been widely described as the bedrock of national advancement and an engine room for manpower development of any nation. It is a system of formal teaching and learning as conducted through schools and other institutions. It includes levels of education from preschools, primary, to colleges and universities.
According to the late South African President, education offers a platform for the child of a peasant farmer to rob shoulder with the child of a wealthy and influential gold and diamond merchant.
Science and technological education is particularly important because it enbales nations to explore opportunities for scientific and technological breakthroughs. Science education refers to the systematic study of everything that can be examined, tested and verified. The word science is derived from the Latin word “scire”, meaning “to know.” From its early development, science has developed into one of the greatest and most prominent fields of human endeavours. Currently, different branches of science investigate almost everything that can be observed or detected while science as a whole influences the way we understand the universe, the planet, human beings and other living and non-living things.
Technology is a general term for the process by which human beings make tools and machines to increase their control and understanding of the material environment and improve on standard of living. The term comes from the Greek words ‘tekhnē’, which refers to an art or craft, and ‘logia’, meaning an area of study; therefore, technology means, literally, the study or science of crafting. Studies have proved that science and technology is an important condition for advancement which engenders industrialization and civilization. In recent times, the global rate of technological progression has developed rapidly. Innovations and creativity now increase at geometrical rate without respect to geographical boundaries/limitations, social or political inclinations.
For obvious reasons, improving the quality of mathematics, science and technology education should not be compromised or taken for granted. Reports list China, India, Korea, Singapore and Brazil as the fastest growing economies in the world and the secret of their successes has been traced to huge investment in education and technological skills. It is, however, sad in Nigeria that governments at all levels have not accorded science and technology education the necessary attention it deserves in terms of investment in adequate infrastructure, training and re-training of personnel. A sound science education programme is expected to achieve an appreciable national development. It is sad that Nigeria is not developed in spite of the proposals of successive governments in line with the National Policy on Education.
Happily though, government has embarked on a review of school curricula in primary and secondary education, with early instruction in basic science and technology while thirty four (34) trade subjects were introduced towards inculcating practical skills in Nigerian students. It is hoped that all stakeholders in the education sector would work together to make the curricula work. Goals for school science and technology should meet up with global standards, use appropriate scientific processes (means) and principles in making personal decisions; engage intelligently in public discourse and debate about matters of scientific and technological concern; and increase their economic productivity through the use of the knowledge, understanding and scientific skills.
For the country to remain relevant in competitive world economy, there is need to strengthen mathematics and science education at all levels of our education system. This is in addition to exposing Nigerian teachers and students to modern methods of teaching/learning processes at all levels of our education. It has been observed from recent SSCE, NECO and JAMB examinations that students’ performances have been on the decline in science related subjects. Urgent steps should, therefore, be taken to address the situation.
It is advisable, where possible, to involve our artisans/tradesmen, technicians, technologists and engineers as facilitators or teachers in science and technology related fields in our schools. The nation can take a cue from Japan, United States of America and others who have succeed in effectively promoting science and technology education in their respective countries. Nigeria’s case should not be different if we imbibe the culture of sincerity of purpose and total commitment and political will in the implementation of our laudable policies.
Technology transfer is not easy and cannot be gotten on a platter of gold. For instance, South Korea’s automobile industry had humble beginnings. Its initial operations were merely assembling of parts from Japan and the United States. But it is today rated as one of the largest in the world in terms of production and export volume. Korea’s humble journey into success in the automobile industry began in August 1955, when Choi Mu-seong, a Korean auto mechanic, and his three brothers, mounted an engine on a modified US Army Jeep to manufacture the first car, called “Sibal”.
For Nigeria to make any meaningful impact on scientific and technological education, the citizens would need to be resolute in supporting government’s efforts in terms of provision of infrastructure, equipment, personnel and resources. Parents should equally be ready to assist through vibrant and proactive Parent and Teacher Associations. The youths also must become extremely creative, ready and determined to learn new things that could open up their minds to fresh knowledge. Teachers should equally embrace training and re-training programmes to become conversant with new trends and developments in the ever dynamic field of science and technology.
On the part of the government, adequate provision should be made in allocation of fund for the education sector in conformity with global standards and practices. School managers are also expected to achieve commendable results in terms of virile national development through science and technology education. The world, as we have today, is being driven by new scientific discoveries and technological breakthroughs. Therefore, Nigeria cannot afford to lag behind. This, indeed, is the time to chart a new path for science and technological education in the country.
•Olagunju wrote from Ikeja.