Nigeria’s Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu has advocated the use of indigenous languages in the teaching of mathematics and science subjects in primary and secondary schools in the country.
The suggestion came up when the Minister visited Ekulu Primary School, Enugu, South East Nigeria, in continuation of his sensitization of school children to the importance of science and technology.
Dr. Onu expressed worry that the number of students offering science subjects was far less than those in arts. This is situation he said portend a great danger as it would jeopardize Nigeria’s technological advancement. He explained that one of the ways towards improving the number of those enrolling to study science and technology based courses was to CATCH THEM YOUNG. No wonder, he embarked on tour of primary and secondary schools to encourage school children to cultivate interest in basic sciences and mathematics.
“All through history, whether in ancient or modern times, no nation has ever become great without science and technology. Historian will tell you this. So if Nigeria is to be great and we know that Nigeria will be great by the grace of God, Nigeria must embrace science and technology.”
Dr. Onu continued, “why I am here is to prepare us. If you look at the things you are wearing, whether it is sandals on your feet or the stockings or your school uniform, even the bag that you use to carry your book, even the papers, the pen, they are all products of science and technology. Very often we don’t even easily imagine that it is the wood we find around us, that’s what we use to produce our papers. if look at the window, you see those louvers, it is the sand, which am sure when you see it, you think that it doesn’t have any very important use minus molding blocks and building houses.”
Dr. explained that it was time for the country to forge a new direction in science for her to catch up with the rest of the world.
“For us to build the nation of our dream: to make Nigeria a truly great nation; a country that will be respected by other countries all over the world; a country that people from outside will like to come and live here, even come to become Nigerians, to look for our citizenship; a nation that will be in a position to feed her citizens; a nation that can provide housing for all her citizens; a nation in which her currency will be strong. The only way this can happen if we embrace science and technology.”
The Minister before his visit to Ekulu Primary School, Enugu, had gone to Government College, Keffi in Nasarawa College.
Apart from equipping schools with adequate science basic facilities, Dr. Onu believed that the use of indigenous languages in the teaching of mathematics and science subjects would help increase the interest of school children in the study.
“We have looked around the world and how nations attain greatness and we have seen that they use indigenous language at very early age to teach their students mathematics and sciences. But we are at the level of discussions now because it is not what the ministry can do alone.”
The Minister donated two mobile science laboratory kits and two sets of computer, including lap tops, desk tops, UPS and printers to the four schools that now make up Ekulu Primary School.
It is one thing to provide educational materials but another to put it into good use. One of the Head teachers, in fact the Head teacher of Ekulu School 3, Mrs. Joy Nebo promised that the teachers would undergo training on the use of the laboratory equipment and in turn teach the pupils, who would be the ultimate beneficiaries.
She was full of appreciation for the Minister’s visit.
“This is a day that we have been expecting; the donations were a blessing to the schools. We have interacted with one of the scientists that came with the Minister and he said he would come and train the teachers on the science equipment that are involved. The four head teachers will team up and select the teachers that would be trained.”
Earlier, the Permanent Secretary Enugu State Universal Basic Education Board, (ENSUBEB) Mr. Onagu Ogbodo who read a message by the Chairman of the Board, Mr. Ikeji Asogwa, commended the Minister for his sensitization visit and pledged that the State government would key into the programme.
“Education remains key to success as Knowledge is Power. In the board, we do our best to ensure the delivery and success of the Strengthening of Mathematics and Science Education (SMASE) programme because we recognize that the potentials of our kids to excel in the sciences in the nearest future cannot be quantified if they are started right.”
He went further to say “Enugu State is the right State to commence this programme because we know we will get the right results, so we request you to graciously extend technical assistance and support to Enugu State schools at the basic, post-basic and tertiary levels.”
The pupils were obviously excited to see the minister and his entourage. During an interactive session with the minister some of the pupils indicated interest in being scientists.
BY CHUKWUBUIKE MADU