CHALLENGES OF HAVING NAIJA EINSTEINS: A SHORT STORY ON THE SCIENCES IN NIGERIA

Bayo Ajibola
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DAMI DEOLA | 6 MAY 2017

 

Nigerian Academics is built around the ability of a student to memorize what he/she has been taught. A method known as learning by rote. This method gives undue advantages to students who naturally have a high retentive memory as opposed to other students who are creative; and the consequences are glaring in the Nigerian Society. We have thousands of Mechanical Engineers, yet car owners complain, day to day, of the scarcity and paucity of automobile engineers. We have buildings designed by Nigerian Architects, but not reflective of Nigeria’s unique environment: hot and rainy for most parts of the year with a brief harmattan towards the tail end. By now, one would think we’d have Meteorologists who would have studied the Nigerian weather and given it specific names, specific features etc but rather what we have is just hot weather(dry) and cold weather(wet).

There seems to be a deficiency in detail, an attribute extremely important in the sciences. Science shouldn’t be taught by rote, rather it should be taught with the building blocks pattern, not going to the next stage till this present stage has been learnt and giving real life examples. For example, though I’m an informal artist, I did Mathematics till my final year in secondary school, and I had a predilection for algebra and calculus but I detested Geometry perhaps it could be my phobia for heights or because I always failed it. However, most importantly I was concerned with how the tangent and cosine would solve real life issues, a concern that escaped my Mathematics teacher; I’d later find out that Logarithms for example was used in calculating missile targets etc. Practicability should come back to the fore if we are to see a renaissance in Nigerian Science.

Nigerian Arts is going through another long overdue Golden Age, as since the Wole Soyinka generation, this is the first time in decades that Nigerians are being recognized globally for their literature, music, drama, photography, visual arts, fashion etc And this didn’t happen because of education, it happened inspite of education. You’d see numerous instances of a chemical major opting to be a Fiction Writer like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie or a Medical Doctor opting to be a Film Maker like John Aguh, so definitely their success can’t be attributed to education but rather to passion. Nigerian Artists have shown passion, struggling in early days, delayed gratification, unconcern for public/family perception, poverty and so many other weapons that attack anyone threading a bushy path. But our Scientists are missing these key ingredients as they lack the passion, want/desire immediate gratification, want to be respected and revered as opposed to great etc.

But it’s still possible for the sciences to birth a renaissance, one that would solve Nigerian problems, scientists that would show a concern for their immediate society and pursue practical knowledge and wisdom to wherever it leads them, a society needs all(the sciences, arts, commerce & business, philosophy, entertainment etc) for each field has their place, have their crater within which they hold undue influence. We must recognise and appreciate that the path of greatness is a lonely one and the current Nigerian Scientists must shun Oil Companies, Banks, and Migration to greener pastures behind: they must embrace their inner einstein.


Bayo Ajibola

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