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Survey Shows Poor Science, ICT, Library Infrastructure In Schools

Posted: Sep 30, 2015 at 12:22 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Oyeniran Apata



The Nigerian Academy of Science (NAS) has stressed the importance of scientific approach to unearth the deep-rooted challenges of poor showing by students in science education and youth development initiatives in the country.

This was clearly demonstrated in two separate publications on results of field survey of public and private schools in Nasarawa and Ekiti states.

As young people remain a very important part of the population, experts are of the opinion that significant attention has not been accorded youths to ensure that their needs; education, employment, reproductive capabilities are met.

Although there are youth development policies at the national and state levels, expert believes that there appears to be a gap between policy making and policy implementation.

While the government may have put structures and programmes in place for enhanced science education and youth development, it appears that all of these have not reached the average Nigerian youth whose life they are meant to impact.

These were at the forefront of the one-day roundtable meeting of scientists, under their umbrella association, the Nigerian Academy of Science (NAS).

At a media presentation of NAS reports on education, youth development and reproductive health recently, the President of the Academy, Prof. Oyewole Tomori, said science should be accorded deliberate priority in the scheme of education development if the country is to move forward to achieve a secured future for its youths.

Keynote speaker and Chief Executive Officer of Lonadek/Youth Empowerment and Restoration Initiative, Dr. Ibilola Amao, who spoke on the theme, “Investing in Youths and Building Their Capacities – Pathway for National Transformation,” emphasised that for the country to take its rightful position in the comity of nations, priority should be given to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education.

She explained that since the youth are the hope of the country to create a brighter future, they should be encouraged to embrace STEM.

Lamenting on the low subscription, in science education compared to other fields of study, she identified lack of right attitude to national development as a major challenge against deliberate and workable youth development programmes.

She suggested that students should be encouraged to embrace technical and vocational education, especially at the secondary school level rather than everyone rushing in the pursuit of university education.

Dr. Amao stressed, “There is the urgent need to rebase the programmes offered in the nation’s institutions with priority attention given to science and technology so that the country will become a producer economy rather than to remain a consumption economy.”

Presenting the evidence that could drive policy and action by relevant persons and organisations, NAS in support with the Ford Foundation presented the report of the project for strategic plans for science development, education, youth/social development and reproductive healthcare in Nasarawa and Ekiti states.

NAS Principal Investigator, Prof. Akinyinka Omigbodun, said the exercise was to appraise the development of science, in terms of the available facilities and equipment to the students in the schools in the states.

He said: “The pilot project assessed the available science kits and equipment to the secondary school students, how many students are in school, or out-of-school system, how many students are studying science, the learning environment, how developed is science education, enrolment and facilities for science education in the pilot state.”

Giving the academy’s commitment to the evidenced based solutions, Omigbodun said, “The project activities were in two stages. There was an initial needs assessment study to identify the specific needs of various categories of youth in the two states selected for the intervention.

Following this, he added that stakeholders from the two states, each drafted a detailed strategic plan to address the key findings of the needs assessment study for their own state.

He listed the project objectives among others, to include; mobilisation of the top political leadership and relevant stakeholders in the two states to accept the plan and to commit resources to implement it and sustain it over time.

Key Findings In Ekiti State

The most frequently mentioned social development need of youths was education and the youths expected the government and parents to meet these needs.

Also, the survey reported that; a skills acquisition centre for youths existed in the state called Ekiti Odua Skill Acquisition Centre, but it had not trained any youth since 2012 when the first batch graduated, pass rates of students in some science subjects like mathematics and biology were generally low, chemistry was fair while that for physics was higher from 2009 to 2013.

“Majority of the science teachers interviewed had a degree as the basic entry level qualification, while less than half of them were members of the Science Teachers Association.

“All the surveyed schools had a structure referred to as a laboratory, but it was multipurpose in nature.  The same laboratory is used for all science subjects, namely; physics, chemistry and biology,” the report added.

Also, most of the surveyed school in Ekiti state had a structure referred to as the library, but these were not adequately furnished and equipped, while only one school had a computer library that was adequate in structure, space and equipment and about two third of the schools surveyed did not have any structure called a computer library.

Omigbodun said the project recommended; adequate provision of libraries, ICT facilities, infrastructure for skills acquisition, establishment of mechanisms to obtain appropriate data on school enrolment and other parameters, especially from the private schools, among others.

Key Findings In Nasarawa State

The survey showed that teachers were not or had no opportunity for trainings in Family Life Health Education (FLHE) and HIV, risky sexual behaviour among youth, observable poor knowledge of contraceptive methods by youths, unsustain skill acquisition programmes and poor attention to people with disabilities on issues affecting them.

In the field of education, the survey showed that infrastructure for science learning and teaching were very inadequate, particularly in public schools, no well-articulated social development programmes for out of school youths, while a few teachers reported attending continuing update education activities in the last three years.

Omigbodun assured that the academy would put the state governments on their toes on how to implement the planned activities in terms of proper funding, learning and skill acquisition, infrastructure provision, well stocked libraries and improved enrolment of students in science education.

He added that the documents would not be confined to the shelves.