World Science Day for Peace & Development
By Jude Chukwuemeka
Sheriff’s opening comments shows the significance of World Science Day as it is celebrated every year on the 10th November. It was established in 2001 with the aim of highlighting the important role of science in society and the need to engage the wider public in debates on emerging and important contemporary issues relevant to science.
World Science Day for Peace and Development is to primarily strengthen public awareness on the role of science for peaceful and sustainable societies. The theme for this year’s celebration is "Open Science, leaving no one behind".
The following objectives must be sustained:
Strengthen public awareness on the role of science for peaceful and sustainable societies;
Promote national and international solidarity for a shared science between countries;
Renew national and international commitment for the use of science for the benefit of societies;
Draw attention to the challenges faced by science and raise support for the scientific endeavour.
Research reveals that Nigeria has invested little in science, technology and innovation over the past three decades. The country’s gross expenditure for research and development as a percentage of GDP is 0.2%, less than half the world average of 0.4%. This lack of investment has handicapped research and development in strategic industries.
Research findings indicate that many smaller African countries have done far better than Nigeria as regards funding. Mozambique spends (0.5%), Mauritius (0.4%), Uganda (0.4%) and Botswana (0.5%).
How has Nigeria fared in terms of science and technology in promoting peace, security and development in the country?
How can the teaching of science and technology be fully integrated into our secondary school curriculum?
What should this mean for all Nigerians?
Rotimi Sankore says the issue boils down to the country’s ability to invest in science and technology education effectively. “So that all these superstition goes away and people will be able to know that science has no limits. People should know that the only limits to science is their imagination.
“The application of science and technology everyday is what counts. Take something like water for example. If you have centralized water system in all the cities in Nigeria, the first thing it will do is phase out all the cholera, diarrhea, and other water borne diseases. They would almost be zero. Then all these sachet or bottled water will almost disappear. Then, we’ll have less flooding, better roads. When you say water and sanitation, we will have good water for everything. But we really need to ask if the federal or state governments understand how these things work.”
Lucy Ikpesu also adds her comment so that Nigerians can benefit. She explains that STEM is a buzz word for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. She says education in Nigeria fails to afford in-depth learning for the students who are tomorrow’s leaders.
She stresses the importance of being practical when teaching students and refrain from encouraging cramming. Lucy believes that the Nigerian child can learn by using real true life methods, bringing these things into the classroom.
“It is shocking that to many Nigerian students, STEM is not something they understand. For all they care about, it belongs to a tree. You can imagine me going to the part of Nigeria which I came from. I can ask the teachers what is STEM and they would tell me they don’t know. So, I think we really need to advocate STEM in the classrooms.”
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Rotimi Sankore - Journalist, Policy and Development Expert
Lucy Ikpesu - Programme Manager WAAW Foundation Lagos/Abuja