In the 21st Century, scientific and technological innovations have become increasingly important as we face the benefits and challenges of both globalization and a knowledge-based economy. To succeed in this new information-based and highly technological world, students need to develop their capabilities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) to leverage beyond what was considered acceptable in the past.
Transforming and equipping our youths into the 21st century scientific and innovative world requires adequate information on STEM, its roles and opportunities.
In a chat with journalists at the 2019 graduation and prize giving ceremony of Ladela Schools, Abuja with theme ‘Reaching for the stars’, the acting chairman of the school’s parents teachers association (PTA), Barr. Mainasara Umar, harped on the importance of equipping children with the basic tools of science, technology, engineering and mathematics for the future, saying it is the basics for every development in the society.
“Education is the key to life, any nation that gambles with the quality of education is toying with the quality of its future. The only treasure Nigeria or any other developing nation should explore to accelerate to the level it aspires to in the comity of nations is education. Education is the key to the discovery of scientific potentialities of any country. The whole world is gearing towards science and technology. The whole nation is geared towards nation building, inclusiveness, good leadership geared towards evolution,” he said.
He urged the Federal Government to provide affordable if not free education to adequately prepare the youth for the future, contending there is no need for the segregation between government and private schools as is currently obtainable in the country as democracy implies equal benefit for all parties in the society from government.
“There is need to review our educational system. We have the nursery and primary education. In other words, the basic education level mainly at the local and state governments and then we have the federal government establishing the UBEC, there is need for harmony. There should be synergy whereby there should not be this unnecessary demarcation because it is the collective responsibility of government at all levels to see to the entrenchment of robust quality of education because the future depends on us and products of these educational institutions at the end are going to the Nigerian market not the local, state or federal government market.
“Education is a collective challenge and everybody should see his/herself as a leader in the drive for the development of knowledge because knowledge is the key without which nations cannot make significant progress.
“Government should not segregate between private and government institution when it comes to support. It is sad and disappointing that for instance the Tertiary Education Fund for example is restricted to only government schools which is wrong. Education should be a general issue. Government should consider this holistically. Everybody should benefit whether you are in public or private school,” he added.
Earlier, the executive director of Ladela Schools Abuja, Mrs Angela Ajala, said the theme for the ceremony was chosen to spur children to reject mediocrity and do things differently from the normal societal trends.
“If you notice in the society today, there’s a kind of despondency around. People are satisfied with mediocrity, they think normal average is okay for them and we’re saying no, if you reach for the stars you may catch the cloud and so, we are telling them to stretch themselves out of their comfort zone. Don’t be laid back, don’t follow mediocrity, be beyond average and do what others are not doing. Don’t even think outside the box, break the box and do something different,” she said.
Ajala also pointed out that in preparing school children for the future, the curriculum only serves as the preparatory basis while schools have the responsibility to infuse other educational aspects to open up the minds of the children and adequately prepare them.
“You know, as a private school operator, and for many of us, we see the curriculum of government just as a basic guideline. As a school we infuse it with the kind of skills we want to see because we are preparing the children for jobs that have not even appeared clearly. The jobs these children are going to do have not even appeared clearly now. So, there are certain skills you must build into the curriculum from adaptive skills, communication, creative, innovative, emotional intelligence, social, digital skills, financial literacy, entrepreneurial skills and all that. “Those skills give you resilience to meet anything you are going to meet in the future. And so those skills are built into the curriculum and then you must tailor the kind of assignments and projects you give which must take the children higher and stretch them,” she stated.
She further urged government to make affordable credit facilities available for schools and ensure adequate power supply, saying they are the basics for research, development and inventions in the society.
“I think the most critical ingredient we have always found missing is access to finance because it is money you will use to do a lot of things. As much as we would like to benefit from TETFUND, even if it is not possible, we are saying can education be considered a critical aspect of everything because without education no other industry can survive. So, we are asking for a single digit interest rate loan for education because the interest rate loan of 28/30 per cent, no school can survive on that because we have to put it back to customers so parents begin to pay a higher fee because you are paying a loan. But if you can have either a bank dedicated to education or a fund dedicated to education with a single digit, I think the kind of thing you will see would be tremendous.
“Another thing is power; we’re are beginning to explore solar and other forms of power. If there is 24 hours of power, the amount of research and reading that will take place will explode in innovations across the nation. So, those two things are critical in education which we think government should look into for us,” she added.
Speaking to newsmen, the best graduating student 2018/2019 academic session, Emmanuel Olademehin, who plans to study computer science in the university, described science and technology as the backbone for development which serious-minded students could use to research, know what’s going on around them, develop their interest in building technologies that can help the world.
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