LEAD PAPER PRESENTATION ON SUSTAINING A DIVERSIFIED ECONOMY AND COMBATTING SECURITY CHALLENGES THROUGH SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY EDUCATION IN NIGERIA

BY PROF. SAMUEL OLUWOLE SALOKUN

Professor of Sport Psychology and Health Education

Department of Physical and Health Education

Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife.

 

PREAMBLE

            I want to start by giving hearty thanks to all deserving bodies of Adeyemi College of Education Ondo for availing me the rare opportunity to deliver a lead paper on the theme sustaining a diversified economy and combating national security challenges through science and Technology Education at the 2015 Annual Conference of the school of Science of this great Institution. I take great delight in observing that the conference theme this year and those of 2013 and 2014 share the common thoughts that:

i.                    Science and Technology are veritable organs of a nations economic development and security and

ii.                  Nigeria, as a nation, is lagging behind in the area of Technological self-reliance and, as the ‘giant of Africa’ with historical evidence of indigenous technology, is still wadding in a muddy pull in seeking the right way to terminate her total dependence on foreign nations for technological expertise in solving economic and security problems.

            It is quite gratifying that the theme of this year’s conference is flavoured with the word: education which thus leads credence to the saying - ‘knowledge is power’ and insinuates that science and technology education is a potent grass root approach to realizing the object of our mission as a nation.

Economy and Security: An Inseparable duo in National Building  

The morphology of the theme of this conference insinuates the existence of a nexus between the status of a Nation’s economy and her security strength. Truly, economy and security as a matter of common belief are interlinked, neatly fused in functional potency and in the course of a Nations all-round development. They are a pair of mutually reinforcing variables. The truth in this claim can be easily seen if a Nation’s Public Spending (PS) on security and her Gross Domestic Products (GDP) are taken as proxies for security and economic development respectively. Another support for this is the notable rise in the security expenditure of many countries especially the developed countries of the world. These facts provide a solid ground to rock on and say, without any fault of fallacy, that a Nations economy and her security status are related in a positive direction and on a cause-and-effect basis. The robust composition of these two constructs makes them elements of superior relevance in Nation building. The constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria found it worthy to provide in Section 14 (1) (b) with regards to the fundamental objectives and directive principles of state policy that “The Security and Welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government, thus, the first indicia of Statehood is the State’s capacity to maintain law and order. Prime facie, a state will be deemed as having failed to the extent that it has failed to guarantee the safety of life and property of its citizenry (Otto, 2003).

 

 

Diversified Economy in a Technologically Backward Nigeria

            In the opinion of Hornby (2010), the word economy denotes the relationship between production, trade and supply of money in a particular country or region. It involves the use of time, money and other resources that are available in a way to avoid waste (leakages). A nations economy is a function of many variables namely: its natural resources, human resources, leadership style and management efficiency. (Adebakin and Raimi, 2012). 

            A diversified economy consists of a wide range of industries products, interests and skills that are very different from one another in order to be more successful or to reduce risk. There is in Nigeria today a glaring case of localization to Petroleum, crude oil exploration and exploitation nevertheless the country can boast, though with caution, of many other areas of natural resources which are viable enough to boost her economy to a global dimension. Mining, Agriculture, Food processing, Robber, Logging, Groundnut Oil. Hides and skin, Textiles cement. Iron and steel, Palm oil, consumer goods foot wears, Agric chemical, fertilizer, printing press pottery, Boat and Ship Construction, Automobile transport. Entertainment (Music Drama Dance) film-industries, Telecommunication, Banking, Animal husbandry and Merchandize Trade are some example. Diversified as the economy may appear, it is still a disheartening truth that these industrial units are localized and exist almost below subsistence level.

            This ugly trend can be attributed mainly to technological backwardness which characterizes our country. Nigeria as indexed by her inability to produce capital goods and earth moving equipments, her inability to harness her natural resources without the major assistance of foreigners, her heavy dependence on foreign countries for the supply of machine tools and spare parts for all industrial machinery as well as her inability to export finished products instead of her raw materials which are converted to finished products for her to import in foreign currencies (Okafor, 2008).

            There are historical evidences to support the existence of science and Technology in Nigeria and other parts of Africa. The 8000 years old Dufuna canoe discovered in May 1987 by a Fulani herdoman in old Borno State that is now in Yobe state which is the oldest in Africa and the World’s third oldest canoe (Sowunmi 2014) is a good example. Painfully and regrettably enough, Nigeria is still marking time on the field of science and technology advancement, appearing to be enjoying the baby stage of (Indigenous) technological development as she has continued to be babied by developed countries of the world. Her indigenous Technological know how have dissipitated with the wind of industrial revolution owing to impotencies which include what Akinbile (2014) drawing from Dayanatha (2006) identified as:

·         Being less capital intensive

·         Being environmental and ecological friendly

·         Being location and site specific and having limited adaptability.

·         Being only able to generate small increments in output and

·         Being only able to diffuse over small homogenous zones.

To sustain a nation diversified economy the following must be suited:

·         Availability of abundant natural resources

·         Availability of human resources experts in engineering, and Technology.

·         Good leadership

·         Availability of adequate equipment and machinery engines

·         Availability of adequate security to protect Territorial boundaries on air; land and sea against infiltration and piracy and, above all,

·         Security of lives and property of the entire citizenry. Nigeria can adequately boast of only abundant natural resources most of which are waiting or begging to be topped.

National Security and its Challenges in Nigeria

            In a nation, security is a term denoting a situation which provides national and international conditions that are favourable to the protection of a nation, a state and its citizens against all exiting and potential threats to lives and property. It has to do with safety or freedom from danger and protection from external attack or infiltration, whether with reference to individual or the state (Otto, 2003).

            It can be viewed as emancipation or freedom from physical structural, political and psychological violence or oppression. In the opinion of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP, 2004), human security may be expressed as including the absence of suchchronic threats as hunger, disease and repression. It means protection from hidden and hurtful disruptions in the patterns of daily life in homes, offices or communities. Wehmeier and Ashby (2002) perceive security as protection against something that might happen in the future or as the activities involved in protecting a country, a building or persons against threats, danger etc. It also relates to the abundance of peace, safety, happiness protection of human and physical resources and structures.

            The samples of definition above succinctly illustrate the features that characterize national security. Therefore security challenges in any nation, including Nigeria, will mean those existing and potential factors or variables or conditions that can lead to insecurity.

            Some disturbing criminal acts which constitute security risks have pervaded the atmosphere in Nigeria for some years now. These acts, some people claimed, were fired by such causative factors as, Historical sentiments, Religious sentiment and fanaticism, ethno-regional inclination, Bad leadership, civil and economic irritants as well inter and intra-political disharmony. They include

·         Boko-Haram bombing and antisocial as well as other inhuman acts such as Rape and Arson.

·         Kidnapping for ransoms,

·         Ritual killing and the terrifying blood-markets stories,

·         Pipeline vandalization,

·         Attacks on public and private institutions by organized gangs.

·         Cultism,

·         Armed robbery,

·         Threats to educational institutions,

·         Unemployment and

·         Drug dealings (Onifade, Imhonopi and Urim, 2013).

            Associated with these are massive loss of lives and property, fear, Panic, prolonged anxiety, mental agony, increased poverty economic stagnation, inadequate medical attention as well as educational and business retardation.      

            It is no longer a fresh news that terrorism, a global phenomenon which was once alien to our country Nigeria, has found its way into the country, to earn her the inglorious tag of a Terrorist Country, which is almost becoming a permanent global political blight.

            Today, Nigeria, is in a state of insecurity that is already known as a most topical issue of discourse from the way it impinges negatively on all geopolitical divisions as well as socio political, educational, cultural and religious institutions. (Okafor, 2008; Otto, 2008, and Bello, 2012). 

Education, Science and Technology

            Education is, simply defined, a process of imparting knowledge or disseminating elements of facts, critical thinking, theories and principles guiding natural phenomena to a learner or a group of learners. Education involves the teaching of skills and dexterity in manipulations, the ability to comprehend, analyze and observe relationships between allied or similar situations, features and structures including their implications. Education instills confidence and causes change of attitude leading to the development of tolerance, contentment, open mindedness, scientific orientation, healthy rivalry and skepticism (Langer, 1977).

            Education takes an individual through socialization which is a life-long process through which social norms, values, and culture of the community are learnt, renewed, conserved, shared and transmitted from generation to generation (Erder, 1966, 1980, Igbo, 2003 and Shaefer 2007). The educated individual is thus equipped with the ability to discernbetween what is good and desirable and what is bad and should be discarded; to embrace what is important, worthwhile and worth striving for including achievement, honesty, liberty, constructiveness, progress and so on. (Annarino, Cowell and Hazelton, 1980; Haralambos and Heald, 2006), Okoli, Obiajulu and Ella, 2013).

            Education viewed from the descriptions of the construct as given above is sine dubio, a potent instrument for shaping an individuals destiny especially through enhancing upward social mobility.

            Education therefore, is better than, and, can be good substitute for policing and hunting of criminals (e.g. oil pipe vandals) because it teaches strict compliance with natural laws and principles. People learn the importance of the rules of law as they affect lives, things, events and how to apply these rules to life situations.

            Science, as a term, is the study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world and society, based on facts that can be proved especially through experimental procedures. (Horby, 2010) Science requires and inevitably utilizes the knowledge of mathematics. It exists in different forms and aligns with different other terms to diversify itself. Among these professional educational terms are social science. Political sciences, sports science, Health Science, Medical Science, Agricultural Science, Engineering Science, Physics Science, Biological Sciences, Science Education etc.

            Technology describes the scientific knowledge used in industries for example in designing new machines (Hornby, 2010). It is the practical application of the knowledge of sciences to create, build, prevent waste, recycle or products. Technology exists in different forms to create areas of specialization such as Educational Technology, Food Science technology. Health technology. Information technology and Sport technology etc.

            Science, Technology and Engineering are allied terms with functional and morphological similarities. The word “technocrat” for example describes an expert in science and Engineering and so an, who has a lot of power in politics and or industry.

Science and Technology Education:

            Science education in Nigeria has a long history dating back to 1962 with the advent of Basic Science for Nigerian Secondary Schools (BSNSS) followed by the Nigerian Integrated Science Project (NISP), a project of the Science Teachers Association of Nigeria (STAN) in 1971. There was a merger of the defunct comparative Education Study and Adaptation Centre (CESAC) and the Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC). This latter body further engaged in other science curriculum development projects with the aim of improving the unsatisfactory traditional method of teaching science in schools. Technology education vary in definition and therefore, in scope or dimension. In one dimension, it could be seen to describe the pedagogy of computer usage and in another dimension as the branch of vocational education. In yet another dimension, technology education could be understood as referring to the artifacts used in the Pedagogy of Education such as educational technology which entails the science of Audiovisual Technology.

            In broader terms, technology education involves that problem-solving approach or situation which engages children in the use of all available intellectual resources and in developing new ones in order to solve particular problems (Benenson, 2001). These include abilities to collect and analyse data, understand spatial and arithmetic relationship communicate in oral and written forms as well as make sense of social relationship.

            The American Association for Advancement of Science (AAAS 1989, 1993) and the National Research Council (NRC, 1996) more widely perceived technology education from the perspective of its usage in trying to change the world, improve its suitability especially in relation to mans needs for survival, food, shelter, defence, affection etc and human aspirations. These bodies embarked on a science education reform proposals which sought the introduction of technological studies in the curricula of elementary, secondary and tertiary institutions. The primary purpose was to introduce and foster the understanding of the concepts and principles of technology, with regards to control, designs and systems as well as the very significant ideas of technology in areas such as manufacturing information and material energy.

           

            Science and Technology education in Nigerian Tertiary institutions has metamorphosed from physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics and Technical Drawing into more sophisticated and functionally productive subjects such as:

Agricultural Engineering, Aeronautic Engineering, Engineering Physics, Chemical Engineering, Food Science and Technology,

Building EngineeringMarine Engineering

Mechanical engineering, Petroleum engineering, Sports technology and engineering, Electrical engineering, Civil engineering, Computer engineering etc.

            The Nigeria Transformation Agenda declared by the Federal Government and the Nigeria vision. 20:2020 have directed the efforts of the government in the direction of designing programmes for long term goals in the areas of energy production, employment creation, wealth generation health service production and agriculture and values orientation.

The way to achieving these is through in science and technology orientation. Therefore, science and technology education is unarguably the master key to diversified economy and security of a Nation. It serves as both initial and catalytic driving forces behind the match towards economic, independence and self-reliance, political stability safety of lives and property and healthful living. It provides the required foundation and leverage for economic reconstruction, social and economic reformation and transformation. It facilitates the production and provision of food, shelter, clothing, medical facilities equipment and attention, raw materials for industrial activities science and Technology education facilitates efficiency in and effectiveness of communication transportation, energy production, power generation, printing press, photograph, mass media, recreation, sports facilities and equipment, water supply facilities and equipment, eateries and shopping complex.

            The potentials of science and technology education for job creation, employment of labour and entrepreneurial development is evidenced by the existence in different parts of the country of Information Communication Technology Institutions (ICT) Schools for Oil and Gas technology, the film academy, Technology Institutes and Seminar centres for soap and detergent, paints, cream, Airfreshiner manufacturing. Construction and Engineering Institutes, Institutes of Welding and Fabrication.

            Existing Government Trade Centres (GTC) should function effectively in the direction of training technologists, and technicians who can become self-employed or be gainfully employed in industries, production companies and government parastatals.

            The police, Armed forces (Army, Navy and Airforce) and other supporting security detachments (Federal Road Safety Commission FRSC, Nigerian Immigration Services NIS, Nigeria Customs Service NCS, Nigerian Civil Defence and Service Corps NCDSC)  need the knowledge of science and technology for effective performance of their duties. This attracts the establishment of a Continuing Education Programmes in Science and Technology.

            The Production of Technocrats, technophiles and scientist as well as architects creates a life of technocracy to the elimination of technophobes in the society. No longer will expertise such as detecting and detonating bombs or any form of subterranean dynamites, production of machine spare parts etc. be alien to our Nation Nigeria.                

            The importance of Science and Technology in revolutionizing Agriculture cannot be overemphasized. Nigerians Agricultural sector requires to metamorphose from its present antiquated methods into a large scale mechanized system if it must be able to provide food for her over 160 million inhabitants.

There is a lot to achieve in the quest for sustainable diversified economy and national security.

·         Hunger will be eradicated. This will put smiles in the faces the onetime hungry men and woman.

·         Peoples health status will, as a matter of fact, improve. Sound minds will inhabit sound (healthy) bodies.

·         Our societies and institutions will be inhabited by individuals who are physically sound, mentally upright, emotionally stable and therefore, socially well adjusted. What qualities can be better for peaceful co-existence in a heterogenous population like Nigerias.

·         More individuals can venture into entrepreneurship in mechanized agriculture in a wider geopolitical coverage.

·         A wider base of employment opportunity and job creation are created for unskilled and skilled labour.

·         The building of Dams will be encouraged and the provision of automated irrigating facilities and equipments will be enhanced.

·         Both the government and individuals can venture also into large scale cattle ranching with vibrant ranch life and extended form of animal husbandry.

·         These agricultural programmes provides additional job opportunities for citizens where scientists technologists, pharmacists, veterinary doctors company nurses and dispensers can gainfully and effectively practice their professions under an atmosphere of social and task cohesiveness, mutual love, understanding and mutual tolerance – an approach to developing national peace.

            Sport is a unifying factor and a social institution which assembles people from all works of life for social interaction irrespective of creed, social class, race or sex. It is also an organ of economic development, technological growth and political recognition for nations as well as a veritable instrument of social mobility for athletically endowed individuals.

            Science and technology has impacted significantly on sports, especially competitive sports, touching very impressively on such areas as facilities, equipment, spectator/audience, participation, officiating, recording and media activities for convenience and security purposes mainly, (Rosandich 2008 and Trei, M. 2008).

For example, owing to knowledge and skill in technology;

·         Over 70 million people were recorded to have viewed the 2010 world cup football competition online.

·         A record-breaking television audience estimated at 28 billion was recorded.

·         The world of science and technology was said to have boasted to have people watch the next (2014) world cup games on television, mobile phone, computer as well as interact with (people) other fans.

·         Technology is in use today for settling controversial decisions an examples is the Hawk-eye motion analysis technology for cricket umpires.

·         Major events and venues now use smart systems to optimize security, transport and facilities management etc

·         Sport venues are also able to conduct environmental and energy management in real time through the use of technology which links the event schedules and occupancy information with building management system. The implications these have for national economy can best be imagined.

            Nigeria as a nation can see and utilize this premise as a fertile area of economic growth and national security through science and education programme.

 

Deduction:

            Nigeria as one country must be united first in the attitude of the entire citizenry towards Western Education, which rather than being seen as a heresy or a forbidden process of education (Boko Haram?), must be embraced as a veritable tool of progress. Therefore, in all the six geopolitical zones of the country, all necessary machinery must be put in place for the encouragement of Western system of formal education. This is a more reliable approach to solving the problem of Boko Haram as it will eradicate the erroneous belief that forms the underlying factor. It is further necessary to take this brand of education to the door steps and backyards of all Nigerian homes irrespective of how remotely located.         

            Nigeria as a nation must lead the campaign and actions/to support revisiting the curriculum at all levels of education, based on a sound science and technology oriented philosophy of education and management policies. This will encourage the breeding of science and technology literates who are empowered to teach, build, design, construct, trace and discover faults, maintain, prevent and cure illness without relying on the assistance of foreigners.

            All junior secondary schools must have sufficient of well trained teachers to handle the teaching of mathematics, basic science and technology if the interest of more students is to be enlisted.

·         Well-equipped laboratories and workshops as well as adequate equipment in science and technology practicals must be in all these schools and be put to adequate use rather than being neglected or abused.

·         Schools and teachers must be regularly visited by Inspectors of Education who must be honest and god fearing individuals from the ministry of education and the ministry of science and technology.

·         In senior secondary schools, where Biology, Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics are compulsory subjects for science students, academic activities must be oriented towards the acquisition of knowledge, a what-have-you-learnt or what-do-you-know ideology rather than an inglorious ‘how- can-I-pass’ short cut. Knowledge, it must be remembered, is power.

·         Field Trips to Industries, Power stations manufacturing companies, steel rolling mills and sawmills, computer villages, if well arranged with development oriented vision, can buttress science and technology education and enlist the interest of Nigerian youths in related professions.

·         Universities and Polytechnics through science and technology education can develop to the level of producing and preserving what students and the entire community members would eat. Home made cooking utensils, cutleries, preservatives, insecticides germicides and herbicides can be part of the final year projects. Faculties of pharmacy, technology, engineering Agriculture and science as well as Institutes (or departments) of Human Kinetics or physical Education and sport are in good position to encourage technological self-reliance in Tertiary Institutions.

            The home is the child first agency of socialization, where the first learning experiences begin. Parents are the primary agents of this process. The saying, ‘charity begins at home’ aligns with this view. The family which is the smallest unit of any community must lay the foundation for active technocracy by lavishing efforts on the socialization of their children into science and technology. Efforts in this direction should include:

·         Providing magazines, comics on science and technology designs and pictures of machines, engines and their parts.

·         Turning television sets to science and technology programmes for children.

·         Providing toys of machines, engines, cars. Truck radio, handsets which children can dismantle and reset on their own.

·         Leading children to visit technology parks for site seeing and leading a family discussion on same to further insinuate them into technology.

·         Homes should provide series of Do-it-yourself books in technology, automobile-engineering, electrical-electronics, engineering architectural design which introduces children and adolescents to the theory and practice of these areas in simple language with discernable illustrations.

·         Schools in Nigeria must change their perceptions of science and Technology as subjects for special breeds.  Mathematics Science and Technology must be conceived as an integral part of the total educational efforts of the school. All students must be availed the opportunity to partake in all activities relating to these subjects within and outside the classroom. 

·         Annual Mathematics, science and technology programmes to show case talents, can be organized in communities by the school.

·         Teachers of Mathematics, Science and Technology must demystify these subjects through the use of simple pedagogical expertise and the buttressing influence of Teaching Aids on learning.

 

 

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