MTNF: Investing in Science Education Good for Sustainable Development

Uchechukwu Nnaike

Science is universal. Every day, humans are encircled by technology and the outputs of science such as mobile devices and networks, the systems of road networks, electricity and other infrastructure.

Scientific data is used to inform public policy decisions that have an impact on every part of life.

The study of sciences not only develops capacity for critical thought, but also problem-solving and decision-making. These skills are essential to all aspects of life.

Therefore, quality science education is essential for youths to thrive in a rapidly evolving world.

Science education is also crucial to the pursuit of sustainable development goals. It also equips teachers, learners and society with knowledge, skills, equipment and freedom to perform noble tasks that improve socio-economic standards.

In Nigeria, for instance, the development of society hinges on the pragmatic efficacy of science education. However, this has been met by certain persistent challenges, including subpar science textbooks, inadequate instructional materials, poorly furnished and ill-equipped science labs, and untrained teachers.

But given the significance of science in sustainable development, various organisations, bodies and foundations – including the MTN Foundation – have made significant advancements by contributing to the development of science laboratories.

A review of Nigerian students in the West African Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (WASSCE) in Biology from 2005 to 2013 showed variation and a downward trend in their performance. According to the same review, there have been chronically low academic success rates in the sciences, with infrastructure problems and learning environment problems.

Speaking on the need to boost science and technology in public schools, Executive Secretary, MTN Foundation, Odunayo Sanya said, “Science and technology play huge roles in promoting economies of the advanced countries of the world, and this is why the foundation has committed huge resources on initiatives like this to ensure that our youths are well equipped to compete and add value. We are proud of the work we do through this initiative, guided by our unwavering belief in the transformative power of education in our nation.”

Through the MTNF Science and Technology Laboratory Project, MTN Foundation has continuously assessed the need to strengthen academic performances in public secondary schools by improving learning outcomes of key science subjects. Throughout the years, the foundation has donated laboratory furniture to students and teachers, installed modern science and technology equipment for each of the laboratories, and has supplied consumables consisting of materials, chemicals and reagents.​

The foundation also facilitated training for the school teachers and lab attendants to provide comprehensive user training to the students.

The Chairman of MTN Foundation, Prince Julius Adelusi-Adeluyi, also stated that the foundation is committed to supporting government efforts in science education.​​​

He said, “The importance of education and technology in the development of our nation cannot be overstated. Science and technology play an important role in promoting economies of advanced countries hence the decision by the foundation to commit huge resources in projects that advance science and technology in the country.’’

Recently, the MTN Foundation renovated the existing science laboratory in Government Secondary School Owerri and Aquinas College, Akure. The schools also received a full renovation of their preparatory rooms for physics, chemistry and biology subjects.

Other contributions by the foundation include the installation of laboratory furniture, supply of laboratory equipment & consumables, installation of solar-powered borehole and installation of alternative power solution, to enable students access both power solution and practical science basics.

The beneficiary schools were selected following rigorous assessment of Expressions of Interest (EOI) by their state ministries of education to the foundation.

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