(By Emmanuel Ezeagwu)
“It is evident that science and technological transfer and development is solely dependent on science and technology education in the country, for scientists and technologists are definitely required in the economic infrastructure of the society before any scientific and technological development, and industrialisation can occur. Even if students do not further their study of science and technology in tertiary institutions and as a result do not go on to become professional scientists, engineers, and technologists, their experience of science and technology gained from the elementary and secondary levels and first year of their tertiary education will be sufficiently rich and relevant.”
IN today’s world, science and technology are undoubtedly vehicles for socio-economic development. Decades ago, developed nations were more or less as undeveloped as developing nations of today. They are now transformed from rural, peasant communities into highly urbanised, industrialised countries through the development of their science and technology. In the process, they became rich and politically powerful.
For Nigeria to achieve her age-old goal of crossing the borderline between being a developing country and a developed country, she must develop scientifically and technologically. It should be added that science and technology have become integral parts of the world’s culture and to lag behind is to be out of place. However, science and technology have continued to have a largely lowly status in developing or underdeveloped societies including Nigeria.
On the cause of the current poor levels of science and technology in the third world countries (including Nigeria), Dr. S.A. Thomas in an article on Chemistry in Britain in 1983 said: “Most third world countries may appear to be looking for salvation in science and technology, they lack the foundation necessary to develop their scientific and technological potentials in real terms. Social attitudes favouring non-scientific endeavours and objects leading to a quest for increased material wealth not justified by increased productivity and optimal utilisation of scarce resources have continued to inhibit enhanced scientific activities…there is a need to solve the problem of inadequate research leadership and generate a crop of policy makers sufficiently on scientific matter, if third world nations wish to improve their lot.”
This foundation necessary to develop science and technology in the country is obviously education—elementary, secondary, and tertiary education. Science and technology have to be taught and studied systematically and purposefully at all levels of education including, at least, first years of tertiary education for the arts and the humanities. It is evident that science and technological transfer and development is solely dependent on science and technology education in the country, for scientists and technologists are definitely required in the economic infrastructure of the society before any scientific and technological development, and industrialisation can occur. Even if students do not further their study of science and technology in tertiary institutions and as a result do not go on to become professional scientists, engineers, and technologists, their experience of science and technology gained from the elementary and secondary levels and first year of their tertiary education will be sufficiently rich and relevant.
Such scientific literacy will equip them to contribute to our country’s development in an increasingly competitive and rapidly changing world. In other words, if all students in this developing country, including those in the arts and humanities as well as sciences, were imbued with the curiosity that characterises scientists and the competence that characterises engineers and technologists, all would be in a better position to participate in the solution of the indigenous problems of social and economic development.
There is a need, therefore, to imbibe the science culture in every Nigerian so as to have the proper and requisite foundation on which to develop our science and technology which will in turn develop the country. This is why great emphasis should be put on effective science education to help lay the needed foundation starting from the primary to, at least, the first year of the tertiary level for students of humanities. The government must design specific policies on science and technical education which must be implemented and sustained to promote science and technology curricula at each level of education. This, of course, must include increased funds which should be provided and properly utilised in the educational system.
When scientifically well informed leadership springs up and scientifically and technologically literate citizens abound who are not all about “a quest for increased material wealth” but ways to contribute to problem solving in the society, the right type of environment will exist and illiteracy and superstitions which are prevalent in the country will be eradicated then all these “social attitudes” which have “inhibited third world countries”, as Thomas rightly puts it, would have been erased. Nigeria will then have a chance to improve her lot as she finally sets out for scientific and technological development which will in turn hastily pave the way for national development. Underdevelopment which has continually plagued third world countries such as Nigeria, rich in human and natural resources, will be history.
There is no alternative to scientific and technological development. They are what distinguish the underdeveloped countries from the developed ones. The standard of living, social security, military and political power of the country all depend on the advancement of her science and technology.
“Opinion pieces of this sort published on RISE Networks are those of the original authors and do not in anyway represent the thoughts, beliefs and ideas of RISE Networks.”