The Role of Science and Technology in National Development - Essay Example

Enhancing national development depends on improving the situation of technical education. Reducing the gap in education reduces individual poverty and encourages economic growth and enhances national development. Problems and Challenges to National Education Policies were also discussed as they relate to difficulty in finding, training and retraining of well qualified science teachers, difficulty In keeping up with emerging science and changing teaching practice, public at all levels, funding and lack of information.

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In order to overcome the challenges of science and Technology education, the paper offers recommendations with a view to enhancing the contribution of Science and Technology Education to national development. INTRODUCTION Science is a human endeavor concerned with a knowledge that seeks to describe conditions and circumstances within our natural environment 0. However, some scientists see science as the, what, how or why of things and happenings in the environment.

Fauna (1980) described science education as the aggregate of all the processes by which a child or young adult develops the abilities, attitudes and other forms of behavior which are of positive value to the society in which he lives. Science education is a field of study tailored to achieve; a) The production of scientifically literate society and b) The development of potential scientific and technological manpower. According to the Webster dictionary, development is a gradual growth or advancement through progressive change I. It refers to the process of growth from infancy (beginning) to a more advanced state (adulthood). Education as defined by Cookie (2007), involves the colonization of individuals to become integral part of the society in which they live. Essentially, the science that was regarded as informal and indigenous was Practiced in the pre-colonial era. It was stimulating, informative and useful. It provided a lead way for understanding, interpreting and relating with the world and nature.

The limitations however are numerous Especially in its inability to provide adequate scientific explanations for causes and events observed in the natural world. National development entails to a very large extent producing more ad better food to eat, healthier and happier individuals, better living conditions and accommodation, improved transportation and communication systems, sound education and enlightenment among the populace and generally more money floating around the he above represents the core indices of national development.

It has been an accepted fact that any group or society that neglects the influence of science and technology to modern world is doomed to obsolesce. A major distinction between an advanced country and developing country today is to a large measure the differences between their levels of scientific and technological development. It is no exaggeration to assert that science education is the gate way to a scientific and technological society.

Hence, science as a tool for national development is expected to make significant contribution to the growth of modern medicine which is expected to ensure improved health conditions of the citizenry and also to provide a sound basis for major increases in agricultural production (the main occupations of many Nigerian) as well as providing significant impetus to national development. Science education is therefore, the bedrock upon which technological development of any nation is based.

This paper would briefly trace the history of science education and thereafter discuss the role of science education as a vehicle to promoting national development in Nigeria. HISTORY OF SCIENCE EDUCATION Science and Technology has been around from the beginning of time. It evolved from the everyday efforts of people trying to improve their way of life. Throughout history, humankind has developed and utilized tools, machines, and techniques without understanding how or why they worked or comprehending their physical or chemical composition.

Before we go any further a definition has to be given for both Science and Technology because they are both different in their own right even though the two are almost indistinguishable. According to the Oxford Dictionary Technology can e defined as the knowledge or use of the mechanical arts and applied sciences, while Science can be defined as the branch of knowledge involving systematized observation and experiment. Science can be further divided into three separate categories; Pure, Applied and Natural Sciences.

In addition technology is often defined as applied science, it is simply the application of scientific knowledge to achieve a specific human purpose, however, historical evidence suggests technology is a product of science. Today there are many technological advancement to enhance our daily activities, whether it be as simple as an ‘pod for entertainment purposes or as vital as an artificial heart for the survival of a human live, science and technology is the reason for its existence. Science and Technology can be traced from the origin of human life 2 million years ago and each era has significant advancement.

The earliest known form of S were human artifacts found during prehistoric time about 2. 3 million years ago, they were roughly shaped stones used for chopping and scraping, found primarily in eastern Africa. Some of the earliest record of science name from Mesopotamia cultures around 400 BC, disease symptoms, chemical substances and astronomical observations were some of the evidence of emerging science. Our forefathers were involved in the manufacture of products such as soap, dyes, glass and herbal remedies.

Smelting of iron materials and other processes were also undertaken. However, they had no knowledge of their chemical compositions and attendant scientific processes. Although, skills involved in the preparation of these items were imparted and passed on from people to people, these could not be said to amount to science education. Fauna,(1980) and others rebel and geared towards the needs of the society. The curriculum was undocumented and unwritten. Yet, it was relevant to both the needs of the individual and his society.

Thus, in the indigenous system of education, these skills were part of the education of Nigerian child. These skills were not institutionalized as it is the case today. Formal science education in its pure form as it is today was unknown to Nigerian before the advent of the Europeans. The teaching of modern science in Nigeria began when western education was introduced in the 19th century. According to Counting (1986), science teaching in the primary school at that time insisted mainly of nature study, hygiene and agriculture.

At the secondary school level, physics, chemistry, biology, general science, agricultural science and health science are taught. The science education being taught in the schools was not compatible with the aspirations of the citizenry of the nation. The critics of the colonial education in Nigeria have repeatedly asserted that it was meant to produce people who could serve the colonial masters in what capacity they demand fit (Collie, 1989). Thus, science was De emphasized as the colonial masters were not interested in our knowledge of science.

After independence, several education reforms were undertaken which led to the formulation of national policy of education, NOPE (1977). Highlights of the policy include the importance of science to the national development and technology. From this policy, it became clear that the federal government has good intentions to boost science education, for example, incentives were given to students who study sciences in tertiary institutions through the award of scholarships and bursary and payments of science allowance to teachers.

In addition, the admission quota of science to liberal arts (humanities) was fixed at 0:40. SKILL ACQUISITION The acquisition of the right type of skill to socio-economic problems and needs is inevitable for nation hopeful of meaningful industrial development. Thus, the knowledge of science education (chemistry, physics, biology, agricultural sciences) is indispensable. It has been the goal of Nigeria to acquire scientific knowledge, technological development and industrialization as has been reflected in most of the national development plans.

Thus, all national development plans stressed industrial and technological development. These developments can only be realized through mound knowledge of the basic sciences. For example, professional disciplines such as medicine, engineering, architecture e. T. C. Require basic knowledge of science education. In the seventies and early ass, some Nigerian thought that money could not be our problem, rather how to spend it. We therefore embarked on massive importation of goods [services and transfer of foreign technology. We later discovered the fallacy of our thoughts.

Dynamic (1971) observed the futility in this policy of technology as follows. The attempts of developing nations to acquire foreign developed technologies have had limited success. This is because it has become apparent that technology transfer is a much more complex and costly process, the ultimate success of which is contingent upon a number of technical and economic factors. Prominent among these factors is the level and direction of indigenous technological efforts in the recipient country. Science has played a major role in the development of technology around the globe.

The correct application and utilization standards is a pre-requisite for national development and economic well being. Thus, the role of science education in the technological and industrial development of Nigeria is tremendous. Babushka (2012), suggested that, physics education plays a significant role in the field of manufacturing and production of different devices and machines that would be of great important in production services for almost all the industries in Nigeria, therefore, physics education serves as a tool for national development in the field of industries.

Counting (1986), identified the following characteristics of scientifically literate person. 1 . Ability to reorganize that science is a human enterprise primarily concerned with the study of nature. 2. Ability to learn owe to acquire necessary knowledge / skills and attitudes relating to science. 3. Ability to distinguish as well as see the relationship between science and technology. 4. Ability to read scientific literature of a general nature. 5. Ability to recognize the limitations of science. 6.

Ability to distinguish between facts and superstitions. 7. Capability to use rational processes to solve problems. 8. Ability to appreciate the role of science and technology in the society. 9. Ability to search for objective facts rather than rely on rumors, taboos, superstitions and other authoritative generalizations. 10. Capability to develop inquiry skills and problem-solving attitudes. 11. Ability to use scientific knowledge and skills for responsible social actions. 12. Capability to develop vocational competence in science. E. T. C.

SCIENCE AS A TOOL IN THE SOCIO-ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT OF NIGERIA Balloon (1982), opined that socio-economic development is essentially development of human and material resources of a nation. As well as fed, physically and mentally healthy and generally educated people constitute other things being equal, an asset to any nation. The problems of social change are basically that of information and resources. For example, if people generally know what to do to improve the quality of their lives and are in a position to do so, they will in all probability do it.

Some countries have natural resources but not the qualified personnel to tap them for the benefit of their people. On the other hand, some countries like Japan have limited natural resources but with highly competent people, have managed to improve the quality of the life of their people. It is truism to state that political independence without economic independence is a sham. However, economic independence can come, giving the material resources through transfer or importation of technology. The technology can then become “indigested” through the development of appropriate manpower.

This might involve the integration of experience of the peasantry with science and technology (Kooky, 1997). At all level of events, the realization that the wealth of a nation depends on its extensive use of science and industrialization has led governments throughout the world to develop science policy alongside socio-economic policies. Indeed, this level of awareness of the importance role of science led the United Nations to organize a world conference in 1979 on the role of science in National development.

Consequently, structures have been developed for government administrations of science and technology in many places of the world. Specifically in Africa, such structures include the organization of African Unity Scientific, Technical and Research Commission (AAU- fields (e. G. Inter-Africa Committee on Agriculture and the Mechanization of Agriculture, Panel of Scientists on Medical Sciences and Pharmacology, Panel of Scientists on Biological Sciences and Panel of Scientists on Science and Technology e. . C. ). A review of our national development plans will reveal why we need science in all aspects of our developments. A look at our public sector plan makes it clear that we need science for the economic, social, administrative and financial sections of the programmers. We need science to develop our agriculture. In the areas of mining, industry, transport and communication, water supply and other services, we need scientists and their knowledge to fully maximize the realization of our development plans.

It is therefore no accident that the federal and state government have been trying to establish more technical schools, Polytechnics or Colleges of Technology, Federal Colleges of Education (Technical) and the Universities of Science and Technology. Part of the expectations in all these efforts is to produce more scientists and technologists in the hope that many of them will be the highest quality that give the nation the expected scientific and technological revolution (Kooky, 1997). It is noteworthy to observe that National Policy of Education intends: l.

To inculcate in the child, the spirit of enquiry and creativity through the exploration of nature and the local environment in pre-primary education. II. The laying of a sound basis for scientific and reflective thinking in primary education, and Ill. To equip students to vive effectively in our modern age of science and technology in secondary education. Hence, science education in the 6-3-3-4 system of education was conceived to be activity based to enable the children acquire scientific process/skills necessary for problem-solving.

FACTORS HINDERING THE EFFECTIVE REALIZATION OF SCIENTIFIC EVOLUTION GOALS IN NIGERIA A number of factors have tended to limit the full realization of the impact of science and technology in most developing countries such as Nigeria. While successive governments have recognized the role of science in national development, there have often been gaps between rhetoric and reality, remises and provision, investment and productivity in science education in the country (Balloon, 1982). All stock holders of science education are responsible for this state of affairs.

Hence, the problem can be traceable to the government, teacher trainers, authors and publishers. 1. The government should stop paying lip service to all aspect of our educational development especially in the area of scientific development. 2. Adequate funds should be allocated every year by all levels of governments in Nigeria to ensure that science education and development does not continue to suffer the present level of neglect. . Faculties of science and technology in our tertiary institutions should be adequately funded to ensure the production of the right caliber of scientists that can promote our national development. . This degree of attention is also needed in our primary and secondary schools where the necessary foundation of science education is laid for our children. 5. Science teachers at all levels should be adequately remunerated and motivated to put in their best and also to stop leaving their profession at the present alarming rate. 6. All research institutes in the country should also be adequately funded to carry on effective research on all aspect of science for our rapid national development. 7. Moreover the products of research from these institutes should be well marketed, quality and quantity of their products (Kooky, 1997).

There can be no doubt that scientific literacy is what all Nigerian need in order to continue to profit spoof the products of science and technology. Hence, more Nigerian should be motivated to study science and science related courses in our secondary and tertiary institutions. The present admission quota ratio of 60:40 in favor of science should be strictly maintained in all our tertiary institutions. All science laboratories in our secondary and tertiary institutions should be well equipped so as to support effective teaching of science at all levels.

A combination of these efforts by all concerned is bound to place science as an effective instrument that will ensure the rapid transformation of Nigeria into an “industrial giant” in Africa. Finally, science and technology has become the key to progress. Scientific research which nourishes and serves as to enable us to increase our knowledge which when put into coherent shape, paves the way for the innovations needed to work out appropriate solutions or technical reoccurred that are more efficient in solving problems of society (Lonely, 1997).

Today, science and technology are driving a wedge between industrialized and developing nations. This gap is becoming wider and wider and we need to devise a strategy for the appropriate technology to meet the cultural demands of our people. The recommendation of VISION 2010 committee on Nigerian future policy and strategy for national development are being implemented. What shall be the responsibilities of scientists as we march towards the next century? Are our scientists playing their expected roles in our national development.

Despite the establishments of 37 universities, numerous research institutes, polytechnics, colleges of education, secondary schools e. T. C. In Nigeria and the production of several scientist, engineers, medical doctors, technologists e. T. C. Our people remain bedeviled with uncountable and unimaginable problems. These include health diseases, food production and storage, communication, industrial development, environmental pollution and energy supply and utilization. It is however observed that scientist have made significant impact to the I. Health care delivery process (medicine) t. Agriculture iii. Industry ‘v.

Education However, the question often asked is whether this will continue to ultimately benefit mankind. Environmental pollution, atomic bomb, murder, are by products of science. PROBLEMS AND CHALLENGES TO NATIONAL EDUCATION POLICIES Policies when documented are fair and genuine but the implementation often encounters bottlenecks hence objectives and goals are eventually rarely met. Balloon (2008) noted the problems associated with educational policy and planning in Nigeria, which includes those of power relation at the directive stage of planning, or preparation and costing, and weak evaluation of projects.

With respect to the implementation of educational policies, Illusion (2002) identified areas either not implemented or not satisfactorily implemented to evolve around the following; the development of national consciousness and unity, inter institutional cooperation, teaching and learning, areas of need and priority, training of staff in methods and techniques of teaching and indifference on the part of government. A lot of funds are plans fail to yield through lack of implementation or bad implementation.

Supervisory and financial problems are also some of the reasons for failure in the implementation of education policies in Nigeria. THE WAY FORWARD From the foregoing, there is clear demonstration of governments’ positive intentions for science and technology education having realized that it is the vehicle by which a nation can be lifted to attain scientific and technological sophistry. This is overwhelmingly but to pretend that there is no shortfall in enrolment and performance in science and technology education is deceptive.

In November 2, 2006, the Honorable Minster for Education at one of the official ceremonies in Baja levered the keynote address titled “science and technology for youth empowerment” specifically states as follows: Our education system is malfunctioning creating in particular problems of scientific and technological manpower production. The situation is so pronounced today that the nation faces crisis of scarcity of scientific and technological manpower.

In essence, we are producing less and less of leaders of tomorrow: the managers, the entrepreneurial class, the teachers, the doctors, the policy makers, the law enforcement makers, the professionals. This is because the transition through the arioso levels of education is not in favor of technology and science career (Genes, et. Al. 2007). Government is not responsive too to the decline in participation in science and technology education programmers that seems to defy possible solution.

The president in the headline of one of the Nigerian read newspaper TUESDAY of March 3, 2008 states; “FOG, W’ bank to promote science education”, Mr.. President alluded that the Federal Government, in conjunction with World Bank, is ready to promote science and technical education at the nation’s tertiary institutions. All these re steps taken to ameliorate the problem. At the International Council of Associations for Science Education (CASE) world conference 2007, delegates noted the need to stage action to bridge gaps between science, technology and the public.

The identified some key reasons for a global decline in the level of interest in science include; At the International Council of Associations for Science Education (CASE) world conference 2007, delegates noted the need to stage action to bridge gaps between science, technology and the public. The identified some key reasons for a lobar decline in the level of interest in science include; a) Difficulty in finding, training and retraining of well qualified science teachers. B) Difficulty in keeping up with emerging science and changing teaching practice. C) Public perceptions related to science. ) Difficulty in maintaining a relevant science curriculum at all levels. Recommendations All stake holders in science education from policy makers to implementers including parents must have input in national development. The government should demonstrate its political will in working to rebuild the Nigerian economy through genealogy education a priority in its broad national development strategy. Science and technology education should be supported by foundations, business, Nags and international development agencies. The gaps between science, technology and the public should be bridged.

The government should encourage and support the establishment and development of professional science and technology organizations, especially teacher organizations nationwide. There should be effective and proper monitory of educational practices from pre-planning stage through planning stage to post-planning stage (implementation). CONCLUSION We recognize that science remains the bedrock of national development and together with technology have entirely dictated the trend of societal growth. Nevertheless, more scientific and technological advances must be continuously made for the benefits of mankind.

The application of science must be related to our national needs and thus deliberate and planned scientific efforts should be made to find the means of satisfying the needs of our citizenry. The people and the leaders must view the effective use of scientific and technological advances as the key to successful and sustainable development. Technological literacy has to be emphasized in the schools and encouraged throughout the population. The effective use of science and technology means “matching solutions in search of problems to problems in search of solutions” Research laboratories must focus on the specific needs of the country.

In developing countries, this means emphasizing applied research and development while maintaining a core of basic researchers who can follow and participate in world advances. Acquiring new technologies requires a system receptive to innovation, with incentives and mechanisms for translating knowledge into action. The process of diffusion implementation is greatly strengthened if there is feedback from the users of technology to generators of knowledge.

The education system must therefore give students practice in understanding the systems, manipulating them, talking about them to one another, and envisioning the function from many viewpoints. The use of tools for managing information complexity needs to become part of schooling for an ever-increasing portion of the population.