‘STEM crucial to scientific, technological development’
If Nigeria must free itself from a monolithic economy, and make headway in innovative scientific and technological development, there is the compelling need to invest massively in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), so says the Director of Education, Trinity International College, Ofada Ogun State, Mrs. Funmi Aderinoye.
She spoke to The Guardian shortly after three of her students represented Nigeria at the recently concluded International Physics Olympiad (IPhO), in Switzerland, and at the international Chemistry Olympiad in Georgia in July 2016. The students are Ebuka Okoli, Amaechi Abuah, and Amam Oghenefejiro.
According to Aderinoye, “Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), is significant in the development of any nation. It is the bedrock of any meaningful or sustainable economic growth and development. This is because it enhances and entrenches in the system, capacity building that enforces the synergy of human and material resources to propel national development.
“It should trigger innovative scientific and technological development to counter socio-economic and political stagnation, and frees the nation from a monolithic economy by aiding diversification.”
She said private schools can boost the teaching and learning of science education in so many ways. “Apart from the normal classroom teaching, a deliberate attempt to equip our school laboratories ensures robust practical sessions in science subjects. Many private schools are now adopting ICT-aided learning to promote science education. Students have access to simulations, real life experiences, and other events during the learning process, via the Internet.
The Director of Education added, “Science exhibitions are organised periodically in co-curricular interactions. Inter-collegiate science competitions also encourage the study of science in private schools. The Science Olympiad Competition in Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, and Informatics, organised yearly by the National Mathematical Centre, Abuja, is a great impetus. Schools also award prizes to students that thrive in these subjects, to enhance their interest. Trinity International College takes the teaching and learning of science very seriously and that is the reason many of our students perform excellently in science subjects in external examinations and science competitions.
She corroborated the views of experts, who want teaching of science to begin from primary schools saying, “The teaching of science should be entrenched in every aspect of the school system and at all levels of our education system. Teaching science at primary school level is realistic for a future oriented nation. Once the teachers are well trained and the facilities are in place, nothing should stop learning of science at primary school level. In fact, if well handled, it will be a strong foundation to build a science focused society, with corresponding creative and innovative prowess.
“However, the complexity and methodology of what is taught at that level must be proportional to the growth and development of the pupils being taught. Safety rules must not be taken for granted too.”
Okoli and Abuah, who finished first and second in physics at the national level, flew Nigeria’s flag in Sweden, while Oghenefejiro, who finished third in chemistry, went to Georgia, Russia to represent the country at the International Chemistry Olympiad. Ebuka eventually emerged with an honorary mention-the fourth category of medals with recognition.
En route to representing the country, Okoli finished first in Ogun State at the first round of the contest, and repeated the same feat at the zonal contest in Abeokuta, and at the national contest in Abuja. In 2015, he also represented the country at the contest in Mumbai, India.
Abuah who came second in the first round in Ogun State, dropped to fifth position in the second round in Abeokuta, and finally came second again at the national level in Abuja. Oghenefejiro came first in chemistry at the state level, fifth at the zonal level, and third at the national level in Abuja.