The teaching of science offers students the ability to access a wealth of knowledge to explain the mechanics and reasons behind the daily functioning of complex systems, ranging from the human body to modern methods of transport among others.
Many people find science inspiring and interesting and several state governments have established science secondary schools, to give students the impetus to develop a strong ability to think critically. Science education gives attention to the teaching of science concepts, method of teaching and dealing with misconceptions held by learners regarding science concepts. Science education is important to the development of any nation.
However, as important as science courses are, students’ performance hasn’t been encouraging, owing partly to decaying school facilities and lack of quality teaching.
In Jigawa State, science secondary schools were said to be in poor state because they were plagued with lack of equipment and supplies. Only few out of hundreds of students sit comfortably in their classrooms due to inadequate furniture while a good number of them are compelled to take lessons either on damaged chairs or while sitting on the floor.
When this reporter visited Girls Science Secondary School, Jahun, he could not get entry because the principal who had the power to allow visitors into the school was not around. However, a source in the school said the classrooms were in the most deplorable condition and nearly every student sat on the floor.
The source added that the school was also facing acute safe water supply problem because the two solar system boreholes that supplied water to students have broken down and both staff and the students have to rely on hand water well pumps.
The only bus for the school has some mechanical problems that have prevented it from being operated and government had neither provided replacement nor repaired it.
The hostels at the school have their own share of woes; the living facilities are inadequate and old-fashioned.
Daily Trust finding showed that the story remained same in the other science secondary schools in the state.
Sokoto State has over 10 science and technical secondary schools which include Nagarta College, Sokoto, Government Girl College Sokoto, Government Science Secondary School Yabo, Government Secondary School Gwadabawa, Olusegun Obasanjo Science Secondary School Bafarawa, Government Secondary School, Binjin, Ahmadu Bello Academy, Government Technical College Farfaru, Government Technical College Runjin Sambo and Government Girl’s College Tambuwal.
A visit to some of the schools showed that the major problems bedeviling them included lack of standard laboratories and reference textbooks in libraries, dilapidation of structures especially laboratories in some of the schools and hostels as well as lack of steady electricity supply which has crippled laboratory practical.
Others are deficiency of science teachers and qualified laboratory technicians in some of the schools and overcrowded classrooms.
“The level of rot in the science secondary schools is alarming and hindering the efforts by the state government to produce the much-needed qualified science teachers who are Sokoto State indigenes. Physics teachers are few across the state,” a reliable source told Daily Trust.
There are also calls on the authorities to ensure adequate security in some of the schools to curb cases of burglary of science laboratories, and other school facilities.
When contacted, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Science and Technology, Sokoto State Muhammad Bello Idris, admitted that schools under this ministry, which include science, technical and commercial schools, were facing some problems but that the state government was “doing its best” to address them.
He said the government has declared a state of emergency on the education sector.
“Before the Technical Committee on Emergency on Education submitted its report to the state government, it surveyed all the schools and noted all the problems, challenges and everything has been comprehensively documented and we are waiting for the state to start action in that direction.
“Meanwhile we are in an emergency situation so all the activities being carried out are still under emergency; the day-to-day running of the schools and so on.
“As you rightly observed, if you go to the schools some of the hostels are not conducive for students habitation however at the beginning of this government, two or three of the hostels were renovated in Farfaru, two were renovated in Tambuwal, four in Gwadabawa and four in Binji.
“The only schools that have not benefitted from the repairs of students’ hostels are the Olusegun Obasanjo Technical College Bafarawa and Government Science School Yabo, the challenges are so enormous but government has started tackling them.
“Government has renovated six of the 10 science and technical schools. If you enter the laboratories, the general repairs is also underway. Some of the laboratories have been equipped, not all. We are just beginning to do something. That of Government Girls Commercial School, Tambuwal has been renovated as well as the library and the technical workshops,” he said.
Idris added that recently, the plumbing workshop of Technical College Farfaru has been renovated and well-equipped.
He said government would start repairs of dilapidated classrooms and other facilities.
On manpower, he said government had recruited 96 science teachers and posted them to the schools. About 90 per cent of the teachers who have been recruited were science and technology teachers and supporting staff were also recruited, he added.
Idris, however, pointed out that the problem on the issue of manpower was the concentration of science teachers in the urban areas as against the rural areas.
“We are working on that, we are trying to see how we can solve that problem in a way that we can introduce a programme on transportation whereby some married women that are serving in the state capital would be transported every day away from the capital to go and teach, because we don’t want to separate them from their husbands,” the permanent secretary said.
He said the number of female teachers in the metropolis was about 60 per cent.
He stated that attention was also being given to training and retraining of teachers.
“In conjunction with the Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria, we have given time limit to all our teachers, from now until 2019, that all teachers must be qualified to teach,” he asserted.