The 2nd international conference of the School of Secondary Education: Science Programmes commenced on Wednesday, June 13, 2018. At the opening ceremony which took place at the College Multipurpose hall, the Provost of the College, Dr. James Bassey Ejue, in his remarks formally welcomed the participants to the Federal College of Education, Obudu. He particularly hailed the presence of Professor C.O Iji of Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi who was slated to present the keynote address, and the lead paper presenters, Dr. A.I. Agbi and Dr. P.C. Israel respectively who were chosen from within the College. It is quite obvious that the paper presenters have always given good account of themselves, according to the Provost.
Dr. Ejue first noted that the theme of the conference "Reforming Science, Technology and Mathematics Education for Sustainable Development Goals" is a very apt one in view of the present realities in the Country. He also acknowledged the important roles that teachers play in the society and urged the upcoming ones to be proud to belong to the profession. The essence of the teaching profession, he said, is to develop key competences that will make them become effective teachers. He said that acquisition of scientific knowledge ranks among the major skills and competences that are required to achieve the sustainable development goals. The Chief Executive then said that the importance of Science, Technology and Mathematics Education cannot therefore be over-emphasized in the achievement of the stated goal.
Being a teacher and administrator with vast experience in the application of science, the Provost said skills and competences in science will help to address the issues of the depletion of the ozone layer as well as the fast encroaching desertification that is staring everyone in the face. Having said that, the Chief Executive advocated for the use of improvisation of instructional materials as a veritable tool for the delivery of lessons in the classroom. Thereafter, he focused on the staff and students of the School of Sciences and challenged them to ensure that they achieve a major scientific breakthrough in the next one year so as to contribute in the achievement of sustainable development goals in Nigeria.
In a keynote address presented by Professor C.O. Iji of the Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi, he addressed the central issues that Science, Technology and Mathematics Education (STME) cannot afford to shy away from. He considered the fact that education is at the center of life and development in any community found on the surface of the earth. The erudite Professor of Mathematics Education also considered the fact that change is inevitable in the life of every human. He anchored the argument on the chaos theory that indicates that complex system could be brought to a single whole that will be beneficial to the civil commons.
The paper therefore showed that sustainable development is a sine-qua-non for the needed information in the society. This could be actualized, according to him, through deliberate paradigm shifts as follows:
i. Need to reform, from educational point of view based on the overall desire to develop an educational literate society in which sustainable development is understood and appreciated within the context of the environment, basic needs and for promoting a better quality life, now and for the future generations.
ii. Greater provision should be made for the continuous professional development (CPD) of STE teachers to promote relevance in the teaching provision for the enhancement of STE.
iii. Taking greater measures to enhance and sustain student motivation in and about science, thus enabling STE to play a role in education for sustainable development.
iv. Enacting more effective teacher preparation/ professional development for sustainable development.
v. Recognize the crucial need for the setting up of effective partnership.
vi. Integrate science and technology education into sustainable development for an institution such as an entire primary and secondary school.
Again, as a deliberate consideration, the keynote address presenter considered that mathematics education was consciously given a space as it was considered to be at the center of scientific and technological development. Ancilliary sciences, he said, were also considered as very necessary for any sustainable development to take place. Recommendations such as encouraging life-long learning, starting at the beginning of life and grounded in life were made. The first lead paper presenter, Dr. Anthony I. Agbi spoke on Reforming Science and Technology Education through Science, Technology and Society Literacy for sustainable Development Goals. The crux of his paper pointed out that there is undue emphasis on paper qualification in Nigeria. As a result, he said the Science and Technology(S&T) Education in the school system, especially at the secondary school level seems to be highly tilted towards passing examinations and gaining admission into higher institutions.
Dr. Agbi said that the products of secondary school S&T education do not seem to be well equipped to use scientific/ technological knowledge and skills to solve personal or societal problems. For him, this implies that there is a yawning gap between learning experiences in the school and life experiences outside the school. He said that this is a serious threat to the attainment of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). In order to close this gap, the lead paper presenter harps on the need to improve on the degree of relevance of S&T education in Nigeria.
Specifying how it can be done, he pointed that one of the ways by which this can be done is by the design and implementation of Science, Technology and Society (STS) literacy in the teaching and learning of science and technology in schools. The paper therefore discussed STS literacy as a viable approach to reforming S&T education for the attainment of SDG's in Nigeria.
The second lead paper presented by Dr. Paul Israel discussed The Imperative of Reforming Science, Technology and Mathematics (STM) Education in Nigeria for the Attainment of Sustainable Development Goals. The paper examines the reformation of Science, Technology and Mathematics Education (STME) in Nigeria as a sine-qua-non for the attainment of the goals of sustainable development. It tried to establish the relationship between education/ STME and development. Dr. Israel went further to trace the history of sustainable development goals and equally identified the 17 development goals as specified by the United Nations. He clarified the meaning of STM education and the different ways in which STM education can lead to sustainable development. The timeline for the various reforms that have taken place in STM education right from inception in the Nigeria school system in 1859 till date is equally presented. The paper also discussed the current status of STME in Nigeria.
In all of these, it is the opinion of the lead paper presenter that some necessary reforms in STM education have been made in the country. However, he said that in spite of the reforms, the present status of STM education is not enough to bring about sustainable development. Dr. Israel therefore calls on Government at all levels to endeavor to carry out reforms in the various areas mentioned as a way of making STM Education achieve its expected goal for sustainable development.
Other people who were present at the occasion are Obong Okon A. Mbuk(Chairman of Occasion), Mr. Emmanuel C. Ngurukwem, Director of Quality Assurance who also represented the Director, Academic Planning, Dr. Godwin Ogar and other participants from within and outside the College.