)The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) on Friday urged the Federal Government to provide appropriate funding for Science and Technology (S&T) for speedy development of the country.
Dr Osuji Otu, the National Programme Officer of Sciences UNESCO told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja that adequate funding of science and technology would act as the catalyst to achieving sustainable development in the country.
Otu noted that although some donor agencies such as UNESCO were involved in funding of some S&T programmes, the government needed to play its part to support its development.
“We are still very far off in developing S&T because they are the drivers for sustainable development.
“Any country that wants to move forward, should adequately fund projects in S&T.
“Presently, we are working with Federal Ministry of Science and Technology to push for the funding of scientific programmes in schools.
According to him, S&T programmes should also be encouraged from the basics, which will transcend to higher levels of education.
“The challenge is that Nigeria is so big compared to other countries, but we are doing our best.
“The government on its part is meant to support Science, Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) to thrive, if they can fund it, the scope will be widened.
“The funding of S&T programmes should start from schools, because we need to get the younger generation involved in studying science and technology.
“Federal Governmnt should also make sure that the Science and Technology Policy is implemented, this will definitely speedy up development,” he said.
The officer said there were global programmes which were dependent on S&T and failure to pursue them would make Nigeria perpetually a consumer nation.
“We have this global agenda on Sustainable Development Goals, we have the Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa (STISA) and they all depend on S&T to be fulfilled.
“If the government remains quiet about it, we will continue to depend on other countries for everything we need and we will remain a consumer nation.
“That will also affect the economy because we will end up not producing anything, rather we will continue to import.”
According to him, Nigeria is still laid back about S&T as some schools still lack laboratory equipment for hands-on experimentations for science subjects.
Otu added that culture, the teaching methodology and insufficiently trained science teachers were deterring students, especially the females from taking up science related subjects.
“Here, we are still talking about providing laboratory equipment to schools, upgrading our curriculum to international standard, training qualified teachers and these are things government should take seriously,’’ he said.
He said cultures and poor methodology were some of the factors discouraging female students from taking STEM subjects.
“People think that most science courses are reserved for men. Go to engineering faculties in tertiary schools, you don’t even see up to 20 per cent women,’’ he said.
According to him, another factor is not enough female personnel in S&T to serve as role models to encourage girls to study STEM courses.
He, however, disclosed that the organisation was working with some women groups to arouse the interest of female students in STEM using them as role models. (NAN)