Teaching of science in Nigeria started during the period of Christian missionaries who introduced western education in Nigeria.
This started with the establishment of church missionary society (CMS) grammar school in lagos, Nigeria in 1859, others include the roman catholic missionary (RCM), African mission of south Baptist convention, Wesleyan Methodist mission, among the rest of united Presbyterian church of Scotland mission and the qua ibo mission.
The foundations of science education were created and injected into school’s curriculum. The subjects include arithmetic, algebra, geometry and physiology.
Others schools established by the missionaries are grammar schools, teacher training schools, pastoral schools, vocational schools, agricultural schools and the introduction of elementary science in the school curricular and the students are been taught.
The curriculum contents are reading, writing, arithmetic and religion. The following schools;
- The hope waddell institute in calabar founded 1861
- Andrews college Oyo founded 1876
- Wesleyan training institute founded 1905 and others like Baptist training centre Ogbomoso founded 1899 all had science subjects in their curricular.
Before the year 1931, only very few students in secondary schools tried science at external examinations conducted by Oxford and Cambridge examination board and those students that tried it, failed (Ogunleye, 1999).
As at this time, many of the parents were uneducated, they were either traders, clergymen, carpenters, and fishermen and only few educated parents sent their children abroad to study either law, medicine or humanity courses instead of science which led to little progress being made in encouraging science education among Nigerians.
The pressures from Nigerian nationals who had the opportunity to study abroad and the legislation on education led the colonial government to establish post-secondary institutions and this mark the beginning of modern teaching of science in Nigerian secondary schools.
After the period of 1883-1930 when the colonial government participate in the development of science in secondary education, the education ordinance of 1980 mark another phase in the development of science teaching in schools, this create the pathway and made nature study compulsory in both primary and secondary school and later gave way to science.
In the year 1932, there was a major development in science curriculum through the establishment of yaba college which was later upgraded to Yaba College of technology, to run courses in engineering, medicine, science, agriculture, survey and teacher training college to filled vacancy in relevant government development.
The college also produced first set of graduates who took teaching of science as a profession and play vital role in building the foundation for the development of suitable curriculum for science in the secondary schools.
There was another major development in the year 1948 when university college Ibadan was established as college university of London following the report of Elliot commission Higher education set up in 1943, which facilitated the establishment of a university in Nigeria.
It should be noted that it remained with status of university of London till the year 1960 and start awarding its own degree and became university of Ibadan in 1962.
In the year 1951, higher school certificate (HSC) was introduced and this gave the schools opportunities to offer subjects like chemistry, biology and physics at higher level, also emphasis was made on laboratory work to meet the piratical requirements of science subjects.
In 1952, an examination board was set up and Accra, Ghana was made the headquarters, following Jeffery report of 1950. The board later became the West Africa Examination Council (WAEC), all school curriculum subject was received including science and had its first examination in 1995.
On 30th November, 1957, The Science Teacher Association of Nigeria (STAN) was established to revise the science curriculum of WAEC and HSC in May 1968.
The Federal Colleges of Arts, Science and Technology at Ibadan in 1950; Zaria in 1952 and Enugu in 1954 were established with the aim of promoting the teaching of science.
In many countries, several science curriculum were developed, few are the physical science study committee (PSSC), chemical education materials study (CHEM. Study), biological science curriculum (BSC) which are all in United State of America and the Nuffidd science projects in the United Kingdom.
In Nigeria, the historic national curriculum conference held from 8th – 12th September, 1969 encouraged various bodies including the government agencies to develop science curriculum for both primary and secondary levels of education.
This development brought about the new NPE of 1977 revised in 1981 which led to 6-3-3-4 system of education and also with the following;
The Nigeria secondary schools project (NSSP) by the defunct comparative education study and adaptation centre (CESAC) now known as part of NERDC.
The Nigeria integrated science project, basic science for Nigeria secondary school (BSNSS) by CESAC and STAN and primary education improvement project: northern states primary school project (NSPSP) by the institute of education, Abu, Zaria.
Also science in Discovering: Mid-western state primary science project (MSPSP) by Abaraka college of education, primary education improvement project: western state primary science project (WSPSP) by faculty of education OAU and among others.
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Ogunleye, A. O. (1999). Science education in Nigeria. Lagos: Sunshine International Publications Nigeria Limited.