“Science is one of the most misunderstood disciplines in the face of the earth. A lot of people think science is abstract and its practice is limited to the laboratory but science transcends that. Science is vital for our daily existence, it is useful for everyday life and drives almost every sector of human existence,” said Mrs. Rashidat Alako, physics teacher at Victory College Ikare, Akoko northeast local government area, Ondo State.
Alako is one of the beneficiaries of a five-day train-the-trainers session for science teachers on modern scientific equipment and applications organised by the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI) and Romsi Technical Limited with support from Senator Ajayi Boroffice in Ondo north senatorial district, Ondo.
Alako, who has been a science teacher for over 21 years, stressed the importance of equipping science teachers with the requisite skills to adequately impact knowledge to students who are the future custodians of national development.
“The training is a very important one. Teachers have been anticipating this kind of programme. I have been a science teacher for over 21 years and this is the kind of training science teachers are required to undertake occasionally to keep them up to date with new trends.
“It is very important because it will go a long way in improving us as class teachers. My school is a premiere school [and] we have science equipment; notwithstanding, we need refresher courses like this to be abreast of new developments in the sector. There are technological breakthroughs all the time.
“For instance, the way we do things now is different from what was obtainable 10 years ago. So, this training is very important and it will help us when we get back to improve on our teachings and help students understand science better,” she added.
Another participant, a biology teacher at Ijagba/Imoru Comprehensive High School, Ose local government area, Ondo, Pastor Otekalu Sunday, said the training equips teachers in the sciences to simplify its application for students.
Stressing the importance of developing science education in schools, Otekalu maintained that science is the bedrock of any economy and, without it, everything and everyone would be dormant.
He said training sessions like these equip the upcoming generation with the right mindset and ideas to compete with their counterparts in other developed nations.
He lamented the paucity of science equipment in schools and urged the government to make more science equipment available as well as embark on intensive capacity-building of teachers in the sciences to set the nation on the right path for national development.
Otekalu commended Boroffice for building the capacity of teachers in his constituency and urged other senators to borrow a leaf from him.
“We are very proud of our senator who supported this programme. This means he knows the heartbeat of the people. Government cannot do all, so when your elected representative supports the capacity-building of his people it means he has our interest at heart. I urge other representatives to emulate him and build the capacity of the electorates so we can all join hands to move the nation forward,” he added.
Commenting on the rationale for the training, the chief executive officer, Romsi Ltd – the training facilitators – Mr. Reuben Omenefu, said the training of the 40 teachers from 20 schools in Oka, Ondo north senatorial district, Ondo, was borne of an attempt at promoting technological science education in Nigeria.
According to him, the state of science education in Nigeria today is far from impressive; hence the lawmaker’s collaboration with the NASENI on the training and provide them with equipment, with information on how to use them. He said the goal was to get the trained teachers to go train others.
“Hopefully, we believe we should be able to revive science education within this senatorial district and Ondo State by extension if we can spread the training beyond the target – teachers training other teachers from different schools on how to teach science better,” he added.
In his remarks, the executive vice-chairman, Prof. Mohammed Haruna, underscored the agency’s commitment to building the capacity of Nigerians in key areas of science and engineering development, stressing any nation that aspires to attain socio-economic transformation must invest in them to engender competition.
Speaking through the agency’s coordinating director of planning and business development (PBD), Mrs. Nonyem Onyechi, Haruna said the agency in its commitment to developing both teachers and students’ interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), an institute was established under the agency, Science Equipment Development Institute (SEDI), Minna and tasked with the mandate to design science equipment to meet the basic need of schools.
“They have so simplified it that they have one specifically designed for primary school, as well as junior and senior secondary schools,” he said.
The NASENI boss said the institute has improvised a lot of equipment that are environment-compliant and familiar to people so that they can use them to grow their interests.
According to him, if the equipment can be provided for various schools and the teachers equally trained on how to apply them, one can rest assured that the children will develop interest in the sciences.
Commenting on the importance of training science teachers, Boroffice posited that teachers are tasked with building the foundation of science education in any nation; hence it is important to build their capacity for effective transmission and imparting knowledge to the upcoming generation.
“Generally, I believe science and technology are so important in the development of any nation. If you observe the development of industrialised countries, you will see that there is a sort of comparison between the level of science and development. If we believe in promoting development, we must also provide a solid foundation for science and technology capacity. I believe we must start right from the foundation: secondary school.
“I am a scientist, so I know the importance of science in national development. We need to start and lay a good foundation. This is the teacher’s job. You can only give what you have. If the teacher is not good, he/she will not be able to produce smart students. We are hoping that, in future, all these science students will end up being either engineers, medical doctors, agric scientists or metallurgists etc. These [disciplines] are very critical in national development,” he added.
The highpoint of the workshop was the presentation of empowerment materials and a science kit to each of the 20 schools that participated in the training.