Problems and Prospects of Women Access to Science and Technology Education in Nigeria

Article excerpt

In this paper, the writers highlighted the importance of science and technology in the development of nations, and expressed the view that the Federal Government of Nigeria, as reflected in the National Policy on Education (1998), gave premium to scientific and technological studies, and did not discriminate between boys and girls in their accesses to such studies in schools. This notwithstanding, various science education literature have revealed low participation of females, in science and technology education compared to their male counterparts. Consequently, factors militating against women access to scientific and technological studies were examined and solutions accordingly proffered.

INTRODUCTION

Every informed person is aware of the amazing accomplishments of science and technology in every sphere of human endeavour. Science and technology has drastically and astronomically increased our knowledge of the universe. It has opened up astoundingly new and improved ways of diagnosing and treating illness. Rapid advances in electronics has ushered in the "computer age", which is rapidly altering our lives for the better. Scientists have even ventured into the hitherto unknown environments of the moon and other planets. It is therefore proper that we learn the skills that have widened our knowledge of the world around us from minute things to the very large ones.

The National policy on Education (1998) gave premium to the study of science and technology by prescribing admission ratio of 60:40 percent science to liberal arts into Nigeria Universities. The policy did not discriminate between boys and girls in their accesses to the study of science and technology in schools. In other words, it is the intention of government to provide equal educational opportunities to all citizens of the country. This notwithstanding, various science education literature (Alele Williams, 1987; Okor, 1990 and Okeke, 1997), has revealed low participation of females in science and technology education compared to their male counterparts. This paper therefore examined the factors militating against women participation in science and technology education and accordingly proffered solutions.

Science and technology education refers to the teaching and learning of science and the application of tools and materials by man to produce goods and services for the benefit of mankind (Imhanlahimi 1998). Many factors militate against females' participation in science and technology education in Nigeria as follows:

Socialization Process

Socialization is the process by which a child learns to respond to socially approved values in the society through the guidance of adults. In Nigeria culture, female children are reared differently from males. While girls are protected and discouraged from explorative and risky activities, boys are encouraged to be assertive and challenge their mental powers. This socialization process leads to certain personality characteristics regarded as masculine or feminine: independent qualities, initiative and assertiveness for boys; and dependency, submissiveness and complacency for girls. These personality characteristics affect the attitude of girls towards science and technology education, as they believe they are inferior to boys physically and mentally.

Sex Roles Expectations

The sex of a child to a large extent determines the choice of career in many cultures, especially in Nigeria. Before the advent of western education in Nigeria, traditional education was practised. Boys received training from their fathers in farming, blacksmithing and other masculine activities, while girls stayed at home to prepare food, washed utensils and took care of little children. In schools, boys are encouraged to do the brain storming mathematics, physics and chemistry, which could lead them to great scientists, doctors, engineers, etc; while girls are encouraged to offer biology and home economics that could enable them become successful housewives. …