INAUGURATION OF JOINT MINISTERIAL COMMITTEE ON THE TEACHING OF MATHEMATICS AND SCIENCES IN LOCAL LANGUAGES BETWEEN FEDERAL MINISTRY OF EDUCATION AND FEDERAL MINISTRY OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY.

Protocol:

We welcome you with great joy to the headquarters of the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology. I like to convey thanks to the Honourable Minister of Education, and also show appreciation for the work that he has being doing for our country both before he became the Honourable Minister of Education and within the past one and a half years that he has served so well as the Honourable Minister of Education. Please when you go back home, convey our very warm greetings to him.

What we are about to do today is a very important assignment and it will make tremendous contributions to the development of our nation. Nigeria is endowed with almost all major minerals. All that is needed is for us to effectively and efficiently exploit these minerals and other resources for the greatness of our nation. No nation has ever been truly great without science and technology. Nigeria cannot be an exception and because of it, the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology is determined to help; working closely with the Ministry of Education to move our nation in a new direction.

All over the world, all the nations that have done very well in the area of science and technology have used their indigenous languages in teaching their children at primary and secondary school levels mathematics and science. This is very important because if you take a child that is only six years old and you move that child away from the language that is spoken in the house, in the home, in the family, and now expose that child to a completely new language, that child will be confronted with additional problems. One is to understand the language before you can understand the mathematics or the science. But if you teach that child in a language that he or she is already familiar with, at least the first problem of understanding the language will be minimized. Nigeria has produced a Nobel Laurette in literature; we have not yet produced one in science and we are anxious to produce a Nobel Laurette in science. And the only way we can do it, is to make sure that our children like and are interested in pursuing carriers in the areas of science, technology, engineering. And they can’t do this unless you can make them comfortable with mathematics and science, and in the very early stages; primary and secondary school.

Yes, there is a national policy, but we have not fully implemented this policy. And that policy takes care of the primary school and then the first half of secondary education. But I think it is very important for us to make sure that from primary to secondary, that mathematics and sciences are taught to our children in their indigenous languages.

Now, this is a big challenge for us. It is a very difficult assignment, but it is normally difficult assignments that will give you very important results. These languages must be brought, developed up to the level where they will now have capacity to now teach mathematics and sciences. That is the first hurdle that we have to overcome.

Secondly, we need to write text books in these languages that will be developed to the level, to enable us teach mathematics and sciences. Then we also have to train teachers who will now use this developed language to teach our children at the primary and secondary school levels.

Those countries that have succeeded had to pass through all these, and we in Nigeria, we are very anxious. We want Nigeria to be not just the largest economy in Africa, the largest market in Africa, but Nigeria should be competing with the very first in the world. And Nigeria can only do this if we as a nation, we are able to make sure that our children have this interest in science and mathematics, pursue carriers in science and engineering in large numbers to have the skills needed to develop that human capacity that is required to convert raw materials into finished goods.

Today, we have seen that our currency is under serious pressure because we import many of the things we use in the nation. But if we are able to produce in Nigeria many of the things that we need, then our currency will not be under the sort of pressure that it is today and our economy will even be stronger. But above all, we will be in a position to create enough jobs for our people. I say this repeatedly, “If China can feed herself and China has a population of at least 1.4billion people. If China can create jobs for her citizens, then, there is no reason why we in Nigeria cannot do so”. And these are the steps that we need to take in addition to other steps; put them together in order to achieve our goal.

The Ministry of Science and Technology cannot do this without the Ministry of Education, so we are very happy that you are here and we are happy that we have always worked harmoniously with the Ministry of Education. President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration is committed to making sure that the Government will operate as one because we are one executive and one ministry will work with the other for the good of our nation.

So it is with happiness that I now inaugurate this very important Inter-Ministerial Committee to help us as a nation to develop the competence that is required to now use our indigenous languages. We can put in vernacular to teach science and mathematics in our primary and secondary schools throughout the nation. I know that though this job is demanding, but you are the best that can be selected to do this. You have a lot of experience, you have a lot of commitment, and you also have the patriotism, the love of nation that is needed to make sure that this succeeds. So we ask you to put in your very best to achieve this. And at all times you must be aware that our nation, Nigeria demands only the very best and we know you are going to give it.

Thank you so much.



Transcribed by Nutsu Jojo Cyril



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