Seminar Papers

Reasons Science Should Be Taught In Basic and Secondary Schools in Nigeria

Reasons Science Should Be Taught In Basic and Secondary Schools in Nigeria

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Introduction

The importance of science and technology to national development in the life of any country cannot be overemphasized. This is because knowledge and skills in science and technology are very vital in the development of any society. Mulemwa (2002) points out that, the fast changing applications of science and technology and the global reliance on its processes and products in all areas of human endeavor have made them invaluable that any society or country without them risks being alienated from the global village.

This means that for an individual to be well-grounded in science, and competent enough to face the challenges of life in his society, he or she must have gone through a science programme that is well planned, assessed and implemented. The 6-3-3-4 system of education operates a curriculum with comprehensive opportunities for all candidates having varying talents and abilities to acquire different and relevant skills through technical, commercial and vocational subjects.

The prevailing system of education in the country also lays great emphasis on the teaching of science and technology at all levels of the 6-3-3-4 education structure. With the adoption of the National Policy on Education, the Basic Science programme was introduced as core subject at the Junior Secondary School level to introduce students to the world of science and to prepare them for higher education in science and technology.

Basic science is a science subject taught at the lower, upper primary and lower upper basic junior secondary school levels. Basic Science in junior secondary school is a course of study which is devised and presented in such a way that students gain the concept of the fundamental unity of science, the commonality of approach to problem of scientific nature and helps students to gain an understanding of the roles and functions of science in everyday life and the world in which they live.

Baiki, (2000), and Agbo, (2008) stated that, basic science is the bedrock to advance studies in science, technology and engineering. The implementation of the basic science programme started in July, 2006 with the appropriation of the UBE fund to the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) and subsequent disbursement to States. The education programme is regarded as a reinforcement of the 6-3-3-4 policy on education rather than a new policy in itself.

The New Basic Science curriculum was approved by the National Council of Education (NCE) in December 2005. There is no doubt that the curriculum is the bedrock of any educational reform of which the Basic Science is not an exception.

Reasons Science Should Be Taught In Basic and Secondary Schools in Nigeria

Historical Overview of Evolution in Science Education in Nigeria

A historical sketch of curriculum development in Nigeria prior independence reveals that the curriculum then was geared towards the needs and aspirations of the colonial masters and missionary agencies. Hence, foreign curricula and materials were imported and adopted in Nigerian schools.

Equipments and materials used were based on foreign prescriptions without recourse to Nigerian conditions, and aspirations. The curricular content was bookish. Skill acquisition and sciences and technology were embarrassingly absent in the colonial curriculum, a situation which was inimical to national development (Wokocha 1993). That was why Mba and Leghara (2008) stated that the genesis of science education in Nigeria is one of evolution rather than revolution.

Before the year 1859, science was not included in the curricula for the primary and secondary schools in Nigeria. Rudiments of science in form of nature study were introduced in the school curriculum with the establishment of church Missionary Secondary school Lagos in 1859. The period from 1859 to the present has witnessed the gradual development and implementation of science education in Nigeria.

Between 1900 and 1960, the improvement was gradual. Thereafter, the science subjects became accorded priority attention in education following awareness that science and technology education is a prerequisite for technological and industrial progress. During an international Conference on Science held in Israel in 1960, there was an agreement

An urge for the need to re-examine the science curricular objectives, content, and evaluation led to the National Science Curriculum Development Conference in 1969. At this conference, several constraints and defective instructional procedures facing school sciences were identified (Bajah 1983).

Thus, the defunct Comparative Education Study and Adaptation Centre (CESAC), with support from Science Teachers’ Association of Nigeria (STAN), and other individual scientists developed the Nigerian Secondary School Science Project (NSSSP) including the texts in Biology, Chemistry, and Physics between 1970 and 1972. CESAC acted as the primary centre which played the role of a developer, facilitator, stimulator, and supporter.

Reasons Science Should Be Taught In Basic and Secondary Schools in Nigeria

The centre trained personnel and helped in sourcing non-human resources for the successful implementation of its pilot projects through its pilot schools, workshops, and, evaluated studies of this project. The philosophy of science teaching at this stage is to prepare the young ones for useful living; and provide adequate solid foundation for those proceeding for higher education. The emphasis is more on acquisition of scientific concepts and process skills.

In the late 1970s, the Federal Ministry of Education assembled a group of Nigerian science educators to design a modern science curriculum in line with the new policy on education. From this emerged the core curriculum for primary science, integrated science for junior secondary, Biology, Chemistry, and Physics, for senior secondary schools (SSS). The new SSS science curricula replaced NSSSP to meet the demands of the new 6-3-3-4 educational system.

The contributions made by the Nigerian Educational Research Development Council (NERDC), and the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) and other bodies cannot be overlooked in this narrative on science education. These historical developments together with their inherent and associated factors have culminated into the state of science education in Nigeria today (Nwachukwu and Chukwuneke 2008).

Reasons Science Should Be Taught In Basic and Secondary Schools in Nigeria

Why is science education important in our schools? We are surrounded by technology and the products of science every day. Public policy decisions that affect every aspect of our lives are based in scientific evidence. And, of course, the immensely complex natural world that surrounds us illustrates infinite scientific concepts. As children grow up in an increasingly technologically and scientifically advanced world, they need to be scientifically literate to succeed.

Ideally, teaching the scientific method to students is teaching them how to think, learn, solve problems and make informed decisions. These skills are integral to every aspect of a student’s education and life, from school to career. With a graduate degree in science education such as the University of Texas at Arlington’s online Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction in Science Education, teachers can use what they learn about science instruction techniques and curriculum design to advance science education and student learning as a whole.

How Is Science Involved In Students’ Everyday Lives?

Science is everywhere. A student rides to school on a bus, and in that instance alone, there are many examples of technology based on the scientific method. The school bus is a product of many areas of science and technology, including mechanical engineering and innovation.

The systems of roads, lights, sidewalks and other infrastructure are carefully designed by civil engineers and planners. The smartphone in the student’s hand is a miracle of modern computer engineering. Outside the window, trees turn sunlight into stored energy and create the oxygen we need to survive. Whether “natural” or human-derived, every aspect of a student’s life is filled with science  from their own internal biology to the flat-screen TV in the living room.

Scientific Inquiry and Scientific Method

Perhaps even more important than specific examples of science in our lives are the ways we use scientific thought, method and inquiry to come to our decisions. This is not necessarily a conscious thing. The human need to solve problems can arise from curiosity or from necessity.

The process of inquiry is how we find answers and substantiate those answers. In the fields of hard science, the process of inquiry is more direct and finite: Take a question; use evidence to form an explanation; connect that explanation to existing knowledge; and communicate that evidence-based explanation. Experimentation based on the scientific method follows a similar course: Combine a scientific question with research to construct a hypothesis; conduct experiments to test that hypothesis; evaluate the results to draw conclusions; and communicate those conclusions.

Reasons Science Should Be Taught In Basic and Secondary Schools in Nigeria

Critical Thinking

Although inquiry and the scientific method are integral to science education and practice, every decision we make is based on these processes. Natural human curiosity and necessity lead to asking questions (What is the problem?), constructing a hypothesis (How do I solve it?), testing it with evidence and evaluating the result (Did the solution work?), and making future decisions based on that result.

This is problem-solving: using critical thinking and evidence to create solutions and make decisions. Problem-solving and critical thinking are two of the most important skills students learn in school. They are essential to making good decisions that lead to achievement and success during and after school.

Yet, although they are nearly synonymous, scientific inquiry in schools is not always explicitly tied to problem-solving and critical thinking. The process students learn when creating, executing, evaluating and communicating the results of an experiment can be applied to any challenge they face in school, from proving a point in a persuasive essay to developing a photo in the darkroom.

In this way, science is one of the most important subjects students study, because it gives them the critical thinking skills they need in every subject.

The Importance of Science in Early Education

Governmental guidelines and tests often focus on middle and high school-level STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education. Yet, many educators believe science education should begin much earlier. Not only does science education teach young learners problem-solving skills that will help them throughout their schooling, it also engages them in science from the start. Kids usually form a basic opinion about the sciences shortly after beginning school.

If this is a negative opinion, it can be hard to engage those students in science as they grow older. Engaging young students with exciting material and experiences motivates them to learn and pursue the sciences throughout school.

Science education is one of the most important subjects in school due to its relevance to students’ lives and the universally applicable problem-solving and critical thinking skills it uses and develops. These are lifelong skills that allow students to generate ideas, weigh decisions intelligently and even understand the evidence behind public policy-making. Teaching technological literacy, critical thinking and problem-solving through science education gives students the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in school and beyond.

Conclusion

The paper gave an overview of the evolution of science education in Nigeria, highlighted some shortcomings in the overall effectiveness of the programme in national development.

These shortcomings were traced to the following: aims and objectives; home childhood orientation; gender factors; curriculum issues; classroom interactions-teachers, teaching methods, computer and internet; evaluation processes, research and review, and problems of resources. Possible remedial steps adopted by the government were highlighted and the following recommendations made.

Recommendations
  1. Proper use of findings and recommendations from scholarly research and review should be made for uprooting the impotence and disabilities of Nigerian science education in development.
  2. Nationwide and JDPC programmes should be organized for youths and young parents on the role of parents and childhood orientation to science education for national development.
  3. The science and technology curricular should be de-sexed, and genderinclusive textbooks in science and technology should be popularized.
  4. Inclusion of learning about computer and its functions as goals in themselves and as a means to an end must be enforced as a sine qua non in science education for both the individual and nation building. The epileptic power supply in Nigeria should be controlled if any meaningful science educations for nation building should ensue.
  5. The S&T curricular be offloaded. The contents should be selected to reflect the culture, needs, demands, and aspirations of the society based on the criterion of significance.
  6. Evaluation of all science educational practices must be done from time to time. There should be both formative evaluation and summative evaluation to ensure that the aims and objectives are attained.
  7. Adequate training, retraining, and motivation of teachers is very necessary for effectiveness. Adiukwu (2008) suggested that a few highly motivated teachers be trained to act as master teachers who will produce “trickle down” reform when they return to their schools.
  8. Laboratory work should be beefed up. Over-crowded science classes should be discouraged.
  9. Classroom interactions which will enable both males and females achieve in science disciplines should be adopted for sustainable individual and national development.
  10. Ways of generating money to fund all aspects of science disciplines should be evolved and utilized by the government.

Reasons Science Should Be Taught In Basic and Secondary Schools in Nigeria

References

Adeyegbe, S.O.(2004): “Research into STM Curriculum and Shools Examination in Nigeria”: The State of the Art. Science Teachers Association of Nigeria proceedings of 45th Annual Conference 70-79.

Adikwu, M.U. (2008): “Curriculum Development in Science Technology; and Mathematics (STM) Education”. A key note Address Presented at the 49th Annual Conference of Teachers Association of Nigeria, at Yenegoa, 26th Augu

Akpan B.B (2008): “Nigeria and the Future of Science Education”. Oluseyi Press Ltd Ibadan.

Asoegwu, A.O.(2008) Problems and Prospects of Gender and STM Education In Curriculum Development in Nigeria. “Proceedings of the 49th Annual Conference of Science Teachers Association of Nigeria” 2008 August. 186- 188.

Bajah, S.T. (1983): “Teaching Integrated Science Creativity” Ibadan University press.

Chukwuneke, B.U. and Nwachukwu, C.O. (2006); Concept Mapping: A Strategy for Arresting the Present Declining Academic Achievement of Students in Biology. “Nigeriran Journal of Teacher Education and Teaching”. 2 (3) 67- 73.

Garson, Y. (1988): “Science in the Primary School”. Rutledge, London. Justice Development Peace Commission (2005); “National Policy on Women”. Educational Public Awareness Series. Lagos

Mba, C.N. and Leghara, B.N.(2008): Science Education in Nigeria: Current Curriculum Practices and Implication for National Development. “Science Teachers Association of Nigeria. Proceedings of 49th Annual Conference”.31-35.

Bakie, A. (2002). Enriching Science, Technology and Mathematics education in Nigeria: Problems and Prospects. Ibadan: Heinemann Educational Books Nigeria Plc.

Abubakar, N. A. (2009). Vocational education and its sustainability in the new millennium. Sokoto Educational Review, 11 (2), 226-236.

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