Female engineers introduce new scheme to boost girl-child skills
The Association of Professional Women Engineers of Nigeria (APWEN) has reiterated commitment towards the development of the girl-child through the use of community projects and enhancing interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).
The APWEN President, Dr. Elizabeth Eterigho, said this during APWEN’s FunStem workshop for secondary schools held at Girls’ Senior High School, Iyana Ipaja, Lagos. APWEN used the forum to unfold its new scheme, ‘FunSTEM’, which makes learning an exciting and enjoyable experience for girls in junior public schools in vulnerable communities in the country.
The initiative is geared toward achieving an equal future in gender representation in STEM and economic inequality between urban and rural communities, equipping them with knowledge, confidence and creativity.
The project sponsored by Worley Foundation, an Australia-based organisation, targets communities in oil producing areas of South-South geopolitical zone, consisting Port Harcourt in Rivers State, Sapele in Delta State, rural part of Lagos, representing Southwest and Abuja, representing North Central.
Speaking on the theme: “Introducing Fun and Excitement into STEM Learning,” Eterigho explained that rural communities face learning and skills crisis, which is leaving girls ill- prepared to develop critical knowledge and participate in the opportunities in engineering.
To prepare the next generation of girls in rural areas to compete for these careers, she said their education must instill both interest and proficiency in STEM at a young age.
She said under the new initiative, Lagos and Abuja are to be used for practical sessions, while the other locations (Port Harcourt and Sapele) will connect online.
According to her, the projected outcome is to select 20 students from five schools in each councils in the three geographical states, who would have the hands-on teaching model.
It also plan STEM teachers training for 20 schools, provision of STEM kit and setting up of STEM hub in the schools, which will be models for other implementation in the country.
Eterigho said the benefits of the programme are to ensure stereotypes between public and private schools in STEM teaching is minimised/eradicated, increase interest in STEM subjects by the girls to boost enrolment for engineering in the higher institutions.
The Senior Special Assistant to Lagos State Governor, Mrs. Adetolu Salau, lauded APWEN for the initiative. She said promoting young ladies interest in STEM, will boost their skills capacity that could be useful in other spheres of life.
Salau charged the pupils to make the best use of the opportunity in acquiring skills needed to be solution providers in societal problems, as well as master essential skills such as communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creative thinking to do excel in life.
In her contributions, the special guest of honour, Mrs. Monica Ojukwu, charged the pupils to be serious with their studies and avoid discouragement in their aspirations.
She added that interest in STEM, will take them round the world.