Listen to article

It is cheering that Nigeria will host this year's edition of the International Science Olympiad (IJSO) in Abuja from December 2-11, 2010. Established in 2004, the competition is for pupils not older than 15 years.

This is the first time the competition will be held on African soil. According to the chairman, Local Organizing Committee of the competition, Prof. Peter Okebukola, about 420 secondary school pupils from 60 countries are expected to participate in the science competition.

Already, 37 countries have registered for the event. Countries expected at the event being hosted by the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology include the United States(U.S.), Russia, Korea, Chinese Taipei, Indonesia, Brazil, South Africa, Ghana and Singapore.

Nigeria has won laurels in past editions of competition.

In the 2009 IJSO, held in Baku, Azerbaijan, Nigeria clinched four bronze medals while Russia and Chinese Taipei emerged the overall winners. It is good that the competition is being hosted by Nigeria. The Olympiad coming at this period of high failure rate in both National Examination Council (NECO) and the West African Examination Council (WAEC) organized school certificate examinations is instructive.

No doubt, the competition will encourage our secondary schools to schedule serious quiz competitions in science and mathematics, in which our pupils now record poor performance, as evident in the recent results released by the two public examination bodies.

The quiz competitions should also involve subjects in the humanities and social sciences to broaden the pupils' knowledge of these subjects. The time has come when every secondary school in the country should develop quiz competitions in science and arts subjects. Such competitions help pupils to aim higher in their academic pursuits. They also help them to be abreast of developments in these subjects. Besides, they widen the scope of the pupils' knowledge in the tested subjects.

There are many benefits derivable from participating in the IJSO. Apart from exposing the pupils to science subjects at a higher level, winning laurels in the competition makes the winner an instant star, and an international figure. It can help the winner get scholarships to Ivy-League universities in the world. It can also serve as a motivating factor that would encourage the pupils to aim for higher goals in life.

The fact that we have participated in earlier Olympiads and now hosting the maiden edition in Africa shows that we are still producing quality pupils in our secondary schools, despite the poor showing in core subjects in public examinations.

Let the government use the occasion of the Olympiad to equip our secondary schools with good staff, libraries and science equipment. The competition should be a renaissance for science education in the country. This has become imperative considering the fact that no society can develop without the sciences.

We believe that the competition will make Nigerian pupils develop more interest in science education and thereby enhance our future scientific development. The hosting of the Olympiad will encourage our youths to develop scientific aptitude. With it, they will understand that science is a way of life and no longer esoteric as it was thought to be.

If our young ones inculcate the scientific aptitude, with time, they too can make scientific contribution to humanity as other races have done. Since the competition is age-specific, let us ensure that we field pupils of the age the competition is meant for.

Let our representatives be well drilled so that they can excel. We expect no less from them. We call on corporate organizations to support the competition. Other corporate bodies should show greater interest in promoting education through competitions like this.