This article presents the comprehensive progression of teaching and learning of physics in Nigerian Senior secondary schools since inception in the nineteenth century. Specifically, the paper discusses the origin of science education in Nigeria, philosophy and objectives of teaching and learning physics, essential features of physics, the curriculum packages/contents, and problems/prospects of teaching and learning physics. Also, contribution of West African Examination council, science Teachers Association of Nigeria and Nigerian Educational research and development Council; communication problems in physics teaching and learning, as well as expected goals of physics teaching/learning in this century and beyond were adequately discussed.
INTRODUCTION/ BRIEF ORIGIN OF SCIENCE EDUCATION IN NIGERIA.
Prior to 1859, no science was taught in any school in Nigeria. At the establishment of the first senior secondary School (the C.M.S Grammar School, Lagos) in Nigeria in 1859, arithmetic, algebra, geometry and physiology were introduced into the school curriculum (Omolewa, 1977; Adeyemo, 2003). A number of Secondary and Teacher training institutions were founded between 1859 and 1929, and their curriculum were science subjects friendly. These science subjects include astronomy, chemistry, physiology, geology and botany. Omolewa, (1977) reported that science teaching and learning suffered in the hands of teachers and students: entry and performance at external examinations were very poor.
When the Phelps-Strokes funded education commission visited West Africa in 1920, it found that the state of science education was deficient, consequently, a strong recommendation for the inclusion of science subjects in the curriculum of all secondary schools was made. Even then, very competent science teachers were available in a few schools for a long time, “the provision for, and method of teaching science were very unsatisfactory” (Omolewa, 1977, Adeyemo, 2003).
Before 1960, classics and arts subjects were emphasized in most Nigeria secondary schools; general science was being taught in lower forms of secondary schools. The government and mission schools taught biology, chemistry and physics in the senior forms presumably due to availabilities of science teachers and equipment. Health science was taught and taken at the school certificate examination as an alternative to biology in the final year of the secondary school course. The science content in schools was dictated by an external examination board (London Universities Examinations Syndicates) with little or no regards to peculiarities in Nigeria (Ivowi, 1984; Adeyemo, 2009). Science teaching and learning in schools was in fact a privilege. The ministry of education inspected and recommended schools for recognition of their science teaching and learning and for West African Examination Council's (WAEC) approval to present candidates for science subjects at the school certificate examinations. In most cases, the order of approval was usually biology, chemistry and physics, in a few cases; a school had approval for the three science subjects at the same time (Ivowi, 1983; Adeyemo, 2003).
The attainment of political independence in 1960 marked the start of a new era in a number of activities in Nigeria. Modification on the basis of nationalism became a common feature soon after 1960. In education, more institutions were established to cope with the increased demand for formal learning with special emphasis on increased demand for formal learning with special emphasis on science teaching and learning especially at the secondary school level. The numbers of courses available in our educational institutions were increased and these courses were made more relevant to the needs of the country. In particular, science, agriculture and technical courses began to acquire their due position in the scheme of things. By the end of the first ten years of independent Nigeria curriculum development movements became established and concrete efforts at innovations had begun to manifest their reality (Ivowi, 1984).
The experiments in education soon after independence, typified by the events at the Comprehensive High School, Aiyetoro, the polytechnic (then Technical College) Ibadan, had proved so encouraging during the period that a number of activities aimed at improving education generally began. Curriculum development conferences and workshops were held between 1969 and 1975 culminating in the production of science curriculum materials for both primary and secondary levels and the national policy on education on document. Debates on the policy document and on other policy statements on education by our various governments were effected to have received appropriate attention in different communities of the country (Ivowi, 1982, Adeyemo, 2003).
The provisions for STEME consist of curriculum, personnel and equipment (Ivowi, 1993). According to (Ivowi 1984, Adeyemo, 2003), STEME policies may be put as follow:
I. Science shall be taught to all children in primary and secondary levels.
II. The teaching and learning of science shall be done in such a way as to develop the child in three domains (cognitive, affective and psychomotor) of educational objectives.
III. Equal opportunity in terms of the provisions of curriculum materials, resource persons and laboratory facilities shall be given to all.
IV. Every child shall take at least one science subject at the end of the secondary school course examinations.
V. Local production of science equipment and the practice of improvisation shall be pursued vigorously. Although adequate strategies have been devised for the implementation of the policies, a closer examination of the implementation process shows that the objectives are far from being realized. A detailed analysis of the implementation strategies of the national policy is properly documented in Ivowi (1983), and a mismatch between policy and implementation are also identified. For example, while government wants all children to do sciences in schools, most schools have no laboratories at all. Apart from poor provisions for STEME in terms of facilities, the problem was compounded by the large population in school as far back as late 1970's (Ivowi, 1984).
Based on these major landmarks in STEME since 1960 in Nigeria, the emphasis of science education in this twenty-first century should be on quality assurance for science teachers, science students and Nigeria society at large. To achieve this and many more, a skill-focused study that is qualitative in its approach, purpose, objective and methodology is indeed timely.
Acquisition and reinforcement of skills and aptitudes through laboratories and workshop practice and other curricular and extra-curricular activities represent the most natural ways of stimulating education and real life work which lead to high productivity.
These considerations underscore the need to focus on skill development and assessment in our teacher education and in-service training programmes, more especially in the science based teaching subject areas of physics, chemistry, biology, integrated science agricultural science, introductory technology, wood work, metal work, electrical electronics, home economics, clothing and textiles.
This article therefore attempts to explore briefly, the concept of skill, aptitude, work, practical skill; their development and acquisition and how they are related with special consideration of their roles in science technology and mathematics education.