‘Nigeria not yet on science, engineering, tech league table’
Proficiency in Science, Engineering and Technology (SET), has the potential to improve every sphere of human life, just as the scientific revolution brought about by the application of SET has put a distinct demarcation between the developed, developing and underdeveloped countries.
Not only have graduates of countries that have gotten it right in SET been provided with key skills and the vital edge in competitive job markets, innovations arising from this have also contributed to their human capital export.
But in spite of these well-known facts, Nigeria still lags behind in tapping from the benefits inherent in science education, even as stakeholders, especially in recent times continue to bemoan underdevelopment and lack of skilled manpower in the country.
According to Pro-Chancellor, Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike (MOUA), Prof Anya O. Anya, Nigeria is yet to make any appreciable progress in SET. Consequently, the country is not on SET league table.
Anya who is also Chairman, Alpha Institute for Research in Science, Economics and Development (AIRSED), while speaking at a Guinness World Record event organised by Science Ambassadors Foundation (SAF) in Lagos, said for Nigeria and other developing nations to join the developed countries on the league table, they need to increase the expenditure level of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on SET and other infrastructures.
In the keynote address, which was titled, “Science Technology and Development: The Preconditions for Synergy,” Anya, regretted that the country has over the while succeeded in paying lip service to science education.
He said until the country pays adequate attention to it, she cannot make any progress in the area of development, as it lacks the requisite scientific knowledge needed for economic diversification and development.
He said, “Studies have demonstrated an empirical relationship between the development trajectory of nations and their expenditure level on the SET, manpower and infrastructure. In general, those nations that can be identified on the SET league table are those that spend in the range of two to three per cent of their GDP on SET.
“This is why, understandably, they are the nations whose production of scientists, engineers and skilled workers are also on the high side. Apart from the G-7 nations; countries that obey this iron law of development include Israel, (which produces the highest number of scientists and engineers per capita in the world), as well as the Scandinavian countries of South Korea and Taiwan, while India is closely moving up in the league tables, Anya stated.
He continued, “Nigeria, on the other hand spends less than 0.01 per cent of its GDP on SET. Despite advocacy by the Nigeria Academy of Science to increase both the expenditure level and SET manpower over the last 30 years, there has been no improvement. Even the recommendations of the African Union’s Lagos Plan of Action have been ignored. So, where do we expect the change that will fight poverty and underdevelopment to come from? The miserly and indeed the irresponsible treatment of matters relating to SET in Nigeria is indeed baffling,” he lamented.
He attributed the development attained by Asian countries like China, Malaysia, South Korea among others, to the attention that they pay science education, adding that their trained scientists, engineers and innovators have continued to increase productivity in their nations.
“Today, China is the second largest economy after the United States because it knows how to apply science and technology to be able to dominate the world. They are also among countries that recognise that competitive experimentation helps a nation in achieving news things.”
He advised that Nigeria should, as a matter of urgency, increase the expenditure level of its GDP on SET as it has the ability to amplify productivity of individuals and general production level of the society.