This paper examined various efforts that have been made to develop science and technology since its introduction into the school system when the early Christian missionary arrived in Nigeria. The paper further discussed different challenges to the development of science and technology in Nigeria. Recommendations were made for its development in Nigeria.
Development of science and technology in Nigeria has not been encouraging since the introduction of sciences into school curriculum from the time of the early Christian missionary to Nigeria. Science teaching in most Nigerian schools was just Nature Study before 1930 (Abdullahi, 1982). Nigerian has not achieved much in science and technology and this is why we are still classified as developing nation. The so called developed nations acquired their prosperity through scientific advancement (Abdullahi, 1982). Nation that is underdeveloped in science will not equally develop technologically because science and technology are together; science deal with collection of data through scientific processes and technology uses the data to find solutions to practical problems.
Several efforts has been made by various government in Nigeria to develop science ever before independent one of such is changed of the concept of General science as a subject to be offered up to the School Certificate to such subjects as biology, chemistry and physics. Later development put enrolment in secondary school at ratio 60:40 between Science and Arts subjects. One major effort aimed at the development of science was the coming together of all science teachers in 1957 to inaugurate the Science Teachers’ Association of Nigeria (STAN). The association is concerned with the teaching of science through inquiry and discovery approach in which students come to understand and develop science concepts by investigating and experimenting on their own (Abdullahi, 1982).
Technical colleges, College of Arts, Science and Technology, Colleges of education Technical, Polytechnics and Universities of Technology were all established in the nation in a quest to develop science and technology. The system of education was changed from the one inherited from our colonial master to 6-3-3-4 system of education. According to Rufai (2007) the 6-3-3-4 policy is fundamental for the so much desired technological breakthrough and the government has made her stand clear by stating her commitment to scientific and technological advancement of the country. Equipment were brought from foreign countries to ensure that this system worked and teachers were sent to overseas for further studies to enable them fit in to the news system of education.
With all these efforts made at developing science and technology and considering its importance to achieving self reliance of a nation as said by Adebayo (2001) that there is need for nations to develop scientifically and technologically because of the role it plays in achieving self reliance. There are still many challenges to the development of science and technology in Nigeria that make her far behind other nations of the world.
For science and technology to be developed to meet the world standard as it is in the developed nations today there must be sufficient resources to teach science at all level of education. Ajileye (2006) opined that insufficient resources for teaching and learning of science constitute a major cause of students’ achievements. This insufficient resource includes laboratories, science equipment, and specimens used as teaching aids. Development of science and technology cannot be separated from the quality of student a nation is producing from her schools.
Waziri (2002) observed that millions of naira-worth of equipment bought for the development of introductory technology is still lying uninstalled due to lack of suitable workshops and laboratories. Nations that do not have laboratories, science equipment and specimens to teach students will surely produce poor students in science and technology who are to become engineers and scientists tomorrow. An important resource in the development of science and technology is qualified teacher. Waziri (2002) said the scarcity of qualified teachers for vocational- technical education programme caused mainly by poor payment as compared to the more attractive opportunities in industry and commerce.
Technical colleges are not longer taken serious; many of these colleges have been closed down because they lack students and commitment by the government. These technical colleges are very important for the training of skill craftsman and artisans that are very crucial to the technological development of any nation.
Foundation of Science
Foundation is very important in any project and that is why there is need for a solid foundation for sound science education from primary school through good method of teaching and well structure curriculum. Akinola (2006) was of the opinion that students failed science because of teacher’s methodology and the structuring of the curriculum. Science teaching is not taken serious in many of our primary schools this makes a class teacher who is not a trained science teacher to be teaching science. It is only in secondary school we have teachers specialised in subject areas but in primary science teachers are ‘multipurpose’ which is very wrong. What do you expect from a teacher who is a graduate of social studies teaching science in primary school? At his or her best would end up in destroying the scientific ability of the pupils. The conclusion is that a bad scientific seed is planted and when it germinates we should not expect anything better. According to Oyedele (2007) science education is the ‘seed ‘to be planted if technological development is to be produced. He said if Nigeria is to be among the advanced societies of the world, equipped with modern technology of her own making, she should prepare her citizens for future roles of predicating them on solid and sound science education. Nigeria children are very good, intelligent and can compete with their counterpart in any part of the world if they have good teacher who teaches with good methods. In the opinion of Oyedele (2007) the average Nigerian child is capable, intelligent and gifted in all spheres of life.
Quality of Education
The quality of Nigerian education is poor due to poor leadership and corruption. Ogunwoye (2003) said lack of teacher motivation, recognition and reward lead to poor quality of education. Nigeria government do not value education and that reflect in their budget every year. They gave very small allocation to education as compared to security forgetting that education is capital intensive. They make insufficient fund available to buy and maintained laboratories and workshop equipment. Idris (2002) observed lack of funds to procure required spare parts to maintain the equipment for technical education. The difficulties of our government according to Adedibu (2001) in formulating sound objectives and best solutions to our problems have resulted in the mismanagement of resources, wrong planning and misplaced of developmental priorities; this has badly affected our educational system in recent decades.
Nigerian society is a major challenge to our development of science and technology. An average Nigerian do not have absolute confidence in any advancement made by his or her fellow Nigerian in the field of science and technology because according to Adedibu (2001) they have much respect for goods from other nations at the expense of locally produced goods and this is having an adverse effect on our technological development. Until we learn to accept and respect our indigenous effort in the field of science and technology and respect our Nigeria made goods we may not make much development in science and technology. Some Nigerian had made significance progress in medicine especially in combating HIV/AIDS but because they are Nigerians nobody recognises their efforts but negatively criticized.
Another challenge to the development of science and technology in Nigeria is rivalry between various institutions especially between university and polytechnics (Katende, 2007). Where these institutions supposed to work together as partners in progress to develop science and technology they are concentrating on which one is superior in certification. According to Mfon (2007) if the polytechnic, university, government and other stakeholders work together towards research goals, our march to technological and scientific breakthrough will be at sight.
Over dependence on foreign aids in form of technological transfer is another challenge. According to Adedibu (2001) technological transfer is a process of acquisition of technical training that can aid a nation technical development from other nations. The buying nation is expected to manage, maintain, replicate and improve on this technology through research without the aid of the selling country. However, Nigeria case is different we have been tied to the apron of the selling country. There is nothing bad in technological transfer but the process must complete by stop depending on the selling nation and this lead to our technological development.
Shortage and inadequate use of instructional material for teaching and learning of sciences in schools is a serious challenge in most Nigerian schools. Kola (2007) said the need for the use of instructional aids in teaching physics in Nigerian schools cannot be overemphasized. The teachers are over dependent on foreign made or better called ‘already made’ apparatus, majority do not have the ability to improvise for the benefit of their students. According to Daniel (2001), teachers need to be exposed to the production and learning materials using available resources especially at this age of information technology. The table below show instructional material uses for teaching and learning physics in two local government secondary schools in a state in Nigeria.
Percentage of used (%)
Percentage not used (%)
Source: Kola (2007).
Science and technology is very important to the growth of a country and therefore its development must be giving a prominent position in the governance of any nation. It is obvious from the above discussion that science and technology has not been well developed due to challenges that can be overcome if we are determine to do so. Most of these challenges are manmade challenges that can be overcome.
Because of the vital role of science and technology in the development of a nation I will like to make the following suggestion for its development in Nigeria.
It is important to start the development of science from the primary school through the use of discovery method of teaching. This enable pupil appreciates science and also be creative in their approach to science rather than the common practice of memorization. Primary school teachers who are not science teacher should not be allowed to teach science as against the present method where class teachers are made to teach all subjects in his or her class including science. Science teachers must be separate from other subjects as it is done in secondary schools.
Science teachers must be encouraged, motivated and send for further training in their field of studies regularly. Attendance of seminar, conferences and workshops must form part of science teacher’s promotion at all levels.
Technical colleges must be resuscitated in all state of the country and government should make enough funds available for the training of technical teachers both locally and abroad. Funds should also be provided for the purchase of technical equipments and building of modern technical workshop.
Professionalism must be strictly adhere to in teaching, it should not just be anybody that can go to classroom and teach, it must be professional teachers. This is important because of the method of teaching and correct improvisation of science instructional materials.
Nigerian should have respect, value and patronise our locally made goods; government should count it as a criminal offence for anyone rejecting or disdain goods produce in Nigeria.
Government should strengthen our research institutions to reduce country over dependence on foreign aids and help to manage, maintain, and replicate technical training got from other nations rather than still depending on them after long years of gotten it.
Finally our government should make education to be first in the nation’s budget as there is no nation that can grow above the level of her education.
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