By Olubusuyi Adenipekun
AS a way of ensuring an effective teaching and learning of science subjects at the basic education level, the Federal Government, through the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), has given out 2,548 science kits to some selected Junior Secondary Schools across the 36 states of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory.

Each state received 70 kits while FCT got 28 kits.

The science kits, worth over N711m, were on Thursday last week handed over to the designated schools during the national flag-off ceremony for the distribution of the equipment which held in Lagos.

The flag-off was done by the Minister of Education, Prof Ruqayyatu Ahmed Rufa’i.
With Rufa’i at the events which held at Yaba College of Technology, were the newly appointed Minister of State for Education, Olorogun Kenneth Gbagi; Minister of Science and Technology, Prof. Mohammed Kaoje Abubakar; Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, Prof. Oladapo Afolabi, Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Princess Sarah Adebisi Sosan; Captain Tunji Sele who represented the Chairman, Governing Council of Yabatech, Elder Joju Fadairo as well as the Rector of the College, Dr (Mrs) Margaret Ladipo.

L-R: Prof Ruqayyatu Rufa’i , Minister of Education; Princess Sarah Sosan, Deputy Governor and Dr. Ahmed Modibbo Mohammed, Executive Secretary, UBEC during the distribution of the science kits.

The Executive Secretary of UBEC, Dr. Ahmed Modibbo Mohammed informed that the provision of the science kits is a fulfilment of the commission’s mandate of providing quality education that gives the learner a head start on skill acquisition for self-reliance at the end of the 9-year basic education programme.

He explained that the provision of the science kits became necessary to make the learning of science subjects easier since a lot of students find them difficult, adding that this informed the Federal Government’s investment of N711,007,381.22 being the balance of the accrued funds of the Home Grown School Feeding and Health programme.

Apart from using part of the funds to procure 8,427,687 textbooks in the core subjects areas for primary 4 pupils and assorted library books for the Junior Secondary Schools nationwide, UBEC, says Dr Mohammed, who expended N709,789,500.00 in 2009 for the procurement of 2,331 science kits which were distributed to schools across the Federation and FCT, adding that UBEC would sustain intervention with improved funding and special grants.

Although the kits were designed and manufactured by the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI) under the leadership of Prof O.O. Adewoye, the content of the kits, says Mohammed, is a product of  wide consultations with the Federal Ministry of Education, Federal Ministry of Science and Technology and their parastatals,  including the Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council, assuring that since the use of the science kits complies with quality and standards of the regulatory authorities, it will produce the desired result in terms of the implementation of the 9-year Basic Education Curriculum.

The UBEC Executive Secretary revealed that the capacity of teachers in the benefitting schools would also be enhanced by organising training programmes for them on the use of the kits.

His words: “The supply of these kits is packaged along with training of the users. A user’s manual and activity guide have been provided. They will be of immense benefit to the learners and the teachers. Coupled with this is the training which NASENI, the producers of the kits, will conduct for the beneficiaries of the kits. This, we believe, will strengthen the capacity of the teachers”.

Dr. Modibbo Mohammed said the kits contain basic science equipment, accessories, charts and models. They were packaged in leather bags for durability while 20 percent of the items were included as spares, urging head teachers, teachers and pupils to ensure the safety, responsible utilization and care of the kits.

Speaking in the same vein Prof Rufa’i said the provision of the science kits is part of the Federal Government’s intervention to states and FCT on the development of basic education, adding that President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration believes in human capital development as the only avenue through which the nation can develop technologically, socially and economically.

The Education Minister said: “It is the belief of this administration that making these kits available in our schools will give proper footing to the teaching and learning of science and prepare our Junior Secondary School students for future academic pursuits in science.

It will also, in the long run, provide the personnel needed for the technological development and advancement in Nigeria, a requisite for us to actualize vision 20:2020.”

Rufa’i contnued: “There have been various clarion calls on Nigeria to re-invigorate technical and vocational education. One major way of responding to such calls is provision of science equipment and facilities. This intervention by the Federal Government is a way of setting the pace and a wake up call for the states that have the primary responsibility of providing basic education for the citizenry.

We expect the states to complement the Federal Government by procuring more kits until all our Junior Secondary Schools have adequately benefitted from this initiative”.

She revealed that the Federal Government will also focus on Early Childhood Development which has been neglected in the past, explaining that investing early in the children will impact positively on their growth and development just as she pledged the determination of government to ensure that Nigeria attains EFA and MDGs targets.

The Minister of State for Education, Olorogun Kenneth Gbagi, who was attending his maiden official assignment in his new capacity, also addressed the large gathering of stakeholders.

He appreciated the need for both the state governments across the country to complement the efforts of the Federal Government which cannot successfully fund education alone.

Gbagi said efforts should be put in place by state governments to produce more science kits which will be enough to go round among the remaining  schools which are not opportuned to benefit from the ones being distributed by the Federal Government.

The Minister of State for Education enjoined benefiting schools across the country to see the kits being distributed to them as a great opportunity by making the best use of them in a way that would promote the teaching and learning of science subjects which will lead to the realisation of the Vision 20, 2020 and other national and international goals.

Lagos State governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), who was represented at the event by the state deputy governor, Princess Sarah Adebisi Sosan commended the Minister of Education for ensuring that teaching and learning is tackled right from the foundation level, adding that the state government recognises the emphasis of the Federal Government on technical education as a means of achieving technological development of the country.

He says: “Today, we have at the centre a government that is more receptive to ideas of other components of the federal entity. This has indeed led to the various successes recorded in the educational sector so far and the minister and her team must be commended for this.”

The governor also said that the state government gives priority attention to technical and vocational education which informed the massive reconstruction and rehabilitation of facilities in the state’s technical colleges and vocational centres. He thanked the Executive Secretary of UBEC and the Minister of Education for considering Lagos State as the flag-off point for the year 2010 distribution of science kits.

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