By Dayo Adesulu
STAKEHOLDERS in the sector have again spoken on the urgent need for students to develop interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, STEM, adding that these three subjects are key to national development.
They urged government, parents and teachers to stimulate the interest of their wards towards science subjects, noting that developed countries did not build bridges with sports, but through science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
They posited that the Ministry of Education could rework the education curriculum and re-engineer the structural system in such a way as to lay emphasis on STEM, noting that without that, things will remain the way they are in this country.
At the 2017 Science Technology Engineering Mathematics, STEM, symposium organised and sponsored by Agbami to chart the way forward for STEM education in Nigeria, stakeholders present at the Lagos Business School bared their minds, as they placed the future of science education at the fore.
The event organised in commemoration of the World Teachers’ Day, and also to award the winners of Agbami STEM Quiz competition, themed; Promoting Excellence in STEM Teaching and Learning, aimed at mobilising support for teachers and to ensure that the needs of the future generations will continue to be met by teachers.
Manager of Communication for Chevron Business in Nigeria, Mr. Shola Adebawo urged stakeholders to stimulate interest of children toward science and not to see STEM as difficult subjects, stressing that STEM is in everyday life and stakeholders must create advocacy awareness for students to develop passion for it.
According to him, what this country could do is to ensure that everybody has a role to play in driving a sustainable science education, noting: “We can rework education curriculum and re-engineer the structural system in such a way to give emphasis to STEM.”
Teachers, he added, need to teach STEM in such a way as to attract students to the subjects, and not to run away from it, nor see STEM as difficult.
Adebawo who disclosed the position of Agbami on STEM education, pointed out that Agbami is sponsoring the symposium and the series of activities in support of the study of science, technology, engineering and maths.
He explained that because of their passion for science, the Agbami parties have offered scholarships to drive science education in schools and have also invested in significant education infrastructure, particularly science education infrastructure.
He said: “We have invested in 33 fully equipped science laboratories in different schools in different states around the country. These are all physics, chemistry and biology equipment and these investments are to stimulate interest in the study of science education in Nigerian schools.”
He noted that in support of the World Teachers Day, the Agbami parties have demonstrated that they have strong support for education, adding, “this is one of the big areas of our investment. In our support for education, we have discovered that the future of the world is technology-driven and technology is science. Dancing, football and other sports do not build bridges, you need science, technology, engineering and maths to build bridges.”
Moreover, Professor Ben Akpan, Executive Director, Science Teachers Association of Nigeria in his keynote address on the topic Integrating STEM and 21st Century Skills- Innovative Approaches to STEM Education, said that the problem of science education in Nigeria is infrastructure. He pointed out economic, social and cultural as some of the benefits that STEM provides to the society.
He said: “The science community believes that STEM is the greatest value to man and its environment. It has a dual mandate, which is to ensure that everybody has a basic literacy in science and to prepare future engineers, medical doctors and others in the society.
“We are in this present situation in our country because STEM education is not in the forefront. How many of us know and have an idea of the universe? Many countries globally are manufacturing things, but sadly enough, in Nigeria, we can’t even fix a door. We are getting to an era of artificial intelligence, where computers are almost taking over from human beings, as computers are now taking design cues from the brain.
“The world is moving, but from our side here, we are static as nothing is happening. People talk about the curriculum, but I can tell you that that’s not the problem. I have travelled all over the world for science exhibitions and I do see their curriculum and it’s not about it, but actually what they do. Infrastructure here, is a major deficit in Nigeria. It’s critical in science. We have people who schooled here and when they go out, they excel. Teachers need to be motivated so that they will be able to engage and guide students in STEM.”
Meanwhile, the Director, Star Deep Water Petroleum Limited, Richard Kennedy, in his opening remarks said that Nigerian youths need to develop their capabilities in STEM. According to him, to succeed in this new information-based and technology-driven global society, Nigerian youths need to develop their capabilities in STEM to a level far exceeding what was considered acceptable in the past.
He maintained that science, technology, engineering and mathematics are undeniably some of the key subjects to study now because of the need for Nigeria to evolve the scientific and technological innovation needed to face the challenge of globalisation and build an evolving knowledge-based economy.
More importantly, he added that STEM education is directly linked to global competitiveness and future economic prosperity.
On her part, the Chief Executive Officer of International College, Mrs. Abolaji Osime, averred that the country is in need of STEM graduates.
Her words: “The world has moved to knowledge-based economy. We need people who can provide solutions in Nigeria. We need to restructure our education sector because STEM is the future of Nigeria. STEM is integration, because we need to teach students problem- solving now.”
Meanwhile, Lead-Forte Gate College and Baptist Girls Academy came first and second respectively at the Agbami 2017 STEM award, as Majidun Senior Grammar School, came third at the 2017 Agbami STEM quiz competition.