By Ikechukwu Odu
NSUKKA—–A Professor of Science Education at the Enugu State University of Science and Technology, ESUT, Ngozika Mbajiorgu, on Thursday, called for an overhaul of the national science education curriculum because of its deficiency in addressing local development needs.
Professor Mbajiorgu, who described knowledge as the primary driver of productivity and economic advancement, argued that the nature of science education brought by the western world to Nigeria did not serve as an anchor in the students’ interaction with their environment and society.
She made the declarations at Agbani, Enugu State as the 31st Inaugural Lecturer of ESUT, while discussing the topic ‘Science Education and Sustainable Development in Nigeria: Sectoral Crises of Identity.’
The don who equally said that the quality of science education taught in Nigeria schools was doubtful, added that social progress, environmental equilibrium and economic growth are needed for sustainable development of any nation.
She equally argued that using science education to achieve awareness, knowledge and skills in individuals will enhance responsible interaction with the ecosystem to achieve sustainable development.
“An education in science taught with this type of curriculum will develop in the students awareness and knowledge for responsible citizenship. It will equip the future generation with skills for sustainable development and lifestyles in harmony with nature as stated in the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” she stated.
While making a case for the overhaul of the present science education curriculum, she querried “Whose science are we teaching? We teach using foreign data and examples, we use foreign language and cast aspersions on non-scientific language, and phenomena, we use western resources and we repeat western experiments. Whose science is being taught?
“The ‘ogbunigwe’ science may not be refined but that is part of the Nigerian science, the Mobison/ESUT science may not have been replicated but that is Nigerian science and could be replicated. The stains manufactured from local plants may be crude, but Nigerian science all the same and not improvisation. I state categorically Mr. Vice Chancellor that there is a Nigerian science, an American science, an Asain science etc. What science is being taught? You will agree with me that there is indeed a crisis of identity in the Nigerian Science Education sector and until we begin to teach and practice the Nigerian science, development and sustainable development is only a mirage.
“We must begin to reconstruct the identity of science and teach politically correct science. Who is a scientist, a dark-skinned mother of three or a white man in lab coat and thick-rimmed glasses? What is an ‘Ogbanje, sickle cell anaemia or reincarnation of the dead? What is production of something novel from local resources, improvisation or innovation? Indeed, the identity of Nigerian science education must be reconstructed to be politically correct. There, lies the power to produce an effective work force that will use local resources responsibly for sustainable development,” she said.
In his remarks, the Vice Chancellor of ESUT, Professor Aloysius-Michaels Okolie, while lauding the Inaugural Lecturer for her thought-provoking presentation, challenged Nigerian scholars to dwell more on indigenous researches in order to profer solutions to myraids of problems facing the African continent.
He described knowledge “as the state of mind at rest,” adding that our minds cannot be at rest in the midst of agitations for development which require our attention.
The VC also appreciated the former VCs, Prof Chidi Ugwu, and Prof Luke Anike who graced the occasion, stating that there is a need to harvest from their past leadership experiences.
The lecture was graced by some key officers from other tertiary institutions and government officials including the immediate past Provost, Enugu State Polytechnics, Iwollo; former SSG Enugu State, Dr GOC Ajah; and former Dean, Faculty of Education, Federal University Ndufu Alike Ikwo FUNAI, etc.
Also in attendance were all the Principal and key Officers of ESUT including, the DVC, Prof Chike Nwoha; the Provost, ESUT College of Medicine, Prof Frank Ezugwu; Registrar, Mr Ambrose G Ugwu; the University Librarian, Dr Jonas Ezema; and the Bursar, Dr Augustine Ojeh; among others.