SCIENCE TEACHING IN PRIMARY SCHOOL: IT’S IMPLICATION FOR NIGERIA
AINA, JACOB KOLA
B.Sc (ED) Physics, PGDE, M.Ed(sci. Edu)
DEPARTMENT OF PHYSICS
KWARA STATE COLLEGE OF EDUCATIION (T) LAFIAGI
KWARA STATE, NIGERIA
The study took a descriptive survey of science teaching in primary school in Edu Local Government Area of Kwara State, Nigeria. Questionnaire containing 30 items in two sections was used to sample teacher’s views on science teaching in primary schools. Analysis of the returned questionnaire was done using frequency count and percentages. Results revealed that none science teachers were teaching science, no science laboratory and library with relevant science textbooks. One of the recommendations was that science in primary school must be taught by specialized science teachers.
Background to the problem
Science can be define in many ways by different author and researcher. However, it is common to all definitions that science is a body of knowledge characterized by unbiased observation and systematic experimentation.
In all level of education and in any nation of the world science is the same but the teachings differ. To have good results in any human endeavour there must be a good foundation, that is why science teaching in primary school should be taken very serious. According to Momoh (2001) primary education is the foundation of formal education on which the subsequent levels of the nation’s education system rest.
We have many unqualified science teachers in primary school today; not professionally unqualified but they are not qualified to teach science. For a sound teaching of primary science, teachers in primary schools must be given urgent and adequate attention as opined by Momoh (2001).
Science is different from all other disciplines and its teaching and curriculum must be different too. Akinola (2006) observed poor teacher’s method of teaching and structuring of curriculum as problems of primary science teaching. Uchenna (2005) affirmed that the greatest challenge in education in Africa has been the question of curriculum development, especially science curriculum at all levels of education.
Maduabum (1991) in a paper titled Primary School Science Teaching in Nigeria: A need for Re-Appraisal, said primary education is the bedrock of our educational continuum and it requires a solid foundation in science. The words of Yoloye (1994) that primary education in Nigeria is in a state of crisis are true because of what we are witnessing today.
Science must be made real to the pupil in primary schools through good method of teaching, use of good instructional materials and improvisation where necessary. 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.
Abimbola (1999) observed that, the primary; purpose of using instrumental materials in teaching and learning process is to make teaching more effective and facilitate learning. However, it will amount to wasteful exercise if a teacher decides to use materials that are not readily available or too cost to purchase; therefore the idea of improvisation set in.
Okoye (2007) affirmed that the quality of and educational programme of a school is determined to a very great extent by the quality of its library.
The following questions were raised to guide the study
- 1. Do non-science teachers teach primary science?
- 2. Are there provisions for staff development in primary schools?
- 3. Are there adequate provisions for conducting science practical in primary schools?
- 4. Do teacher proffer solution to inadequate supply of instructional material where necessary?
- 5. Are there relevant sources of information centre for teaching science in primary school?
The research was a descriptive survey type. The target population was all primary school teachers in kwara state. The sampled population was all teachers teaching science in Edu Local Government Areas primary school, kwara State. A total of 118 science teachers took part in the study.
Questionnaire developed by the researchers containing 7 items and 23 items in section A and B respectively was used to collect data.
The researcher personally took the questionnaire to the Local Government Board through which it was administered to the teachers and collected back through same. The data collocated were analyzed using frequency count and percentages. The result is presented in the tables below to answer research questions raised.
Results and discussion
Research question 1: Do non-science teachers teach primary science?
From table 1 it was revealed that 26% of science teachers teach science only while majority of the teachers teach all subjects. 37% of the teachers specialise in science and majority of the science teachers specialises in social studies. Table iii indicated that 72.1% of those teachers who specialises in sciences are in integrated science.
Research question 2: Are there provisions for staff development in primary schools?
From table iv 60% of the teachers had attended seminar, conferences and workshop and only 38% of them had enjoyed in-service training since they have been teaching.
Research question 3: Are there adequate provisions for conducting practical in primary school?
It could be inferred from table v that there are no science laboratories in primary schools, yet they still conduct practical lessons for pupils.
Research question 4: Do teacher uses instructional material for teaching and make provision where not available?
Table vi indicated that 60% of the teachers are qualified trained teachers of which 84% of them are NCE holder as observed in table x and 98% of these teachers used teaching aids regularly to teach. The table also indicated that teaching enhance better understanding of science. Where instructional materials are not available 88% of the teachers improved and 65% of these teachers allowed pupil to participate in the process of improvisation.
Research question 5: Are there relevant sources of information centre for teaching science in primary schools?
The table revealed that only 4% had library and 31% of these library had relevant science textbooks.
Methods of teaching
Table viii revealed that 38 and 32% of the teachers used demonstration and discovery method of teaching respectively. None of the teachers used project and field trips methods
Sources of science equipment
Table ix revealed that government is the major source of supply of science equipment.
Years of teaching experience
Less than 3
Period of teaching per week
More than twice
Tables xi and xii revealed that teachers had been long in teaching and science is prominent in school time table.
Specialization is very important in all human endeavours. Science teacher in primary school are not specialized, this is the reason why social studies teachers are teaching science. This is not good enough for the development of science and technology in the nation. The implication is that the teacher will only teach what he/she knows and leave what he/she doesn’t know. Pupil in such class will not be sound in science and may not be able to continue in future.
Staff development is very essential in every sector of our economy, education inclusive. What do we expect from a teacher who has never attended seminar, conference and workshop for many years? Such a teacher will not be able to update his/her knowledge in science. Science is dynamic, new things are discovered every day. Researches are going on every day, the results of which is made public through seminars, conferences and workshop. Many of the teachers are NCE holders, this suppose not to be, when one consider how long they had been in teaching. They should have gone on in-service training for higher qualification. If it continues like this a time is coming when NCE science teacher will not be able to handle primary school science because school curriculum is changing every time.
Science without laboratory is worse than a mechanic without a workshop. Laboratory is that school building set apart for scientific inquiry. According to Aina (2010) laboratory provides pupils with opportunities to engage in processes of investigation and inquiry. Like the school under study how will they carry out investigation and inquiry when many of them had no laboratory? The implication is that science learnt under such situation will be crude and cannot meet up with the present technological development of the nation. Pupil in such primary school will only be interesting in other disciplines like sociology, history etc. when they get to high school and this will not be better for our nation.
It is highly encouraging that teachers in these schools used instructional materials regularly. This confirmed its importance in teaching and learning processes as observed by Kola (2007) that instructional materials aid learning.
Library is very important to teaching and learning in this age of information communication technology (ICT). According to Lawal (2002) library is a dynamic institution providing societal information needs and preserving societal records in the most systematic and scientific manner. Library is very important to any level of education. Primary schools not having library and the available few not having relevant textbooks are not acceptable. The implication is that books are very costly now for pupil to buy; they could only use those in the library where there is library. The question is where there is no library what will the pupil read? There is the need to encourage reading habit of students from the primary school. Where there is no library and no relevant textbooks, reading will be very difficult.
Methods of teaching used by teachers’ are good and encouraging but teaching of science at any level require project and field trip method. Learning of science should be made real by giving project to pupil that will take them out of classroom to explore nature. According to Abdullahi (1982) field trips help to add reality to and verification of scientific laws. The saying that experience is the best teacher might be true but there is the need to allow fresh graduate to teach in primary schools because of the latest development in science teaching which the old teachers might not have the privilege many years ago in their studies.
Conclusion and recommendations
From the research questions, it was observed that primary school science teachers are not specialized, the implication is that science teaching in this level will be inadequate and this will have adverse effect on the development of science and technology of the nation. Absence of laboratory, library and relevant science textbook in primary school is not good enough for the technological development of the nation. Pupils are not doing science but learning it, because all their activities start and end in classroom without outside classroom science project and fields trips. This will make the pupils to have misconception of abstractness of science, which is not good. Staff development is not adequate this will have far reaching effect on teacher’s productivity.
In view of the above conclusion the following recommendations are suggested.
Specialised science teacher should be teaching science in primary school. Someone who is not a science teacher by certificate should not be allowed to teach science. Laboratory and library must be provided for all primary school with relevant science materials and textbooks. Primary schools teacher must be mandated to go for in-service training to upgrade their certificate regularly. Education is dynamic so teacher must not be static.
Quality education is costly and community and corporate bodies should not leave it finances in the hand of government alone.
Science teacher must always teach science through project and take pupils out of classroom to places of interest to make science real to the pupils.
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