CONTINUED FROM YESTERDAY
They are right, and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education now makes the case that these foresighted precursors have been making for years.
STEM signals the triumph of an educational and curriculum policy that attempts to generate competitiveness in school with regards to the study of science and technology and the implication of such a curriculum for national development.
This makes it doubly tragic that a country like Nigeria that urgently need to upgrade its development profile has not deemed it fit to engage the policy end of the STEM challenge nor seek to unpack the relevance of Yoloye’s science education research as basis for deep-seated reform.
This research is all the more requisite because it advocates the teaching of science from the primary school level within the frame of integrated science, which was one of his inventions, and wherein the scientific spirit could first be firmly ingrained in the educational quest of the children.
His involvement in science education at the primary school level was indeed revolutionary since it led to the transformation of the lukewarm attitude to science education.
Through the African Primary Science Programme (APSP) and then later, the Science Education Programme for Africa (SEPA), Prof. Yoloye and others breathed proactive life into curriculum, teaching methods, teacher trainings, enrichment of science education and the development of publishing initiatives for science education project.
From a pan- African perspective, Yoloye’s original research passion, intelligence testing, allows him to unravel the fallacy behind Eurocentric biases which undermines the African’s capacity for abstract and scientific thinking.
Science, indeed, is a universal endeavour and Nigerian children have a right to its promises as a prelude to Nigeria’s human capital flowering. Prof. Ayotunde Yoloye has more in terms of educational legacy that speaks to Nigeria’s human capital impasse.
It is as if he has been telling us all along that if Nigeria is to transform her development fortunes and achieve the capacity to make her educational dynamics the hotbed of human capital development, the best place to commence is not only the active cultivation of science education but also the active measurement and evaluation of educational processes, institutions and programmes.
Educational evaluation is a gatekeeping mechanism in education that allows for adequate quality control of educational programmes and the evaluation of student learning dynamics.
If education must become a fulcrum for development advancement in Nigeria, then educational evaluation becomes a crucial ingredient in the reform of Nigeria’s educational sector.
Innovative progress in education requires a rigorous evaluation framework that balances new ideas with environmental imperatives.
And Yoloye saw this necessity and dedicated his entire career to pushing the boundary of theories and practices in this regard.
It should be straightforward, for instance, to connect Yoloye’s research outputs in educational evaluation, his promotion of science education and his advocacy of mastery learning into a firm and robust educational philosophy around which a STEM framework for curriculum transformation in Nigeria could be grounded.
Mastery learning foregrounds a pedagogical strategy that inculcates a mental and practical reassessment of learning.
At a primary school level, mastery learning provides sufficient motivation that allows young minds to achieve the mastery of scientific attitudes and challenges.
If science itself is considered broadly as the mastery of the universe and its physical laws, then a pedagogy premised on mastery learning as the foundation of science education promises a lot for the reassessment of Nigeria’s educational policies and philosophy.
Ayotunde Yoloye had many policy initiatives, especially with regard to the evaluation of educational programmes and curriculum development.
But the large and damning question is whether we have integrated his ideas on curriculum development, measurement and evaluation and science education while he was still alive to pragmatically refine, redefine and reassess them. Now, Professor Emmanuel Ayotunde Yoloye is gone. And he left a body of insightful and revolutionary ideas and practices around which a solid educational practice in Nigeria could be built. Alongside other education icons in Nigeria, there really is no need to reinvent the wheel of educational advancement beyond the pragmatic frameworks which these patriotic educationists have provided. Yoloye does not stand alone; he is one great name in a firmament of other great names who have invested a lifetime in education reform in other to excavate a rich package of ideas and ideals around which Nigeria can overcome its development lethargy. If we must develop, we must rigorously guide the content of our educational programmes. This is one of the significant lessons Yoloye is asking us to learn as a nation. Emeritus Professor Emmanuel Ayotunde Yoloye is truly gone, and we mourn and celebrate his passing; but it is not too late in time to put his legacies and ideas to good use to salvage our educational predicament. Concluded
•Dr. Olaopa (email@example.com) is the Executive Vice-Chairman, Ibadan School of Government and Public Policy (ISGPP).