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....As Anthonia, Abebe, Amarachi win APWEN”s FASCOS second edition

By Ebunoluwa SESSOU

The second edition of the Felicia Agubata Science Competition and Scholarship for girls in primary schools held in Ijede area of Ikorodu Lagos, organised by the Association of Professional Women Engineers of Nigeria, APWEN has produced Anthonia Nkwogu, Abebe Amarachi, Achem Justina as 1st, 2nd and 3rd winners of the competition respectively.

In a keynote speech presented by the Rector, Federal Polytechnic Oko, Engr. Francisca Nwafulugo FNSE, called on all stakeholders to shun certain religious restrictions against the female gender that are really awkward. Adding that, a collaborative effort by the Government, Religious bodies and traditional Institutions to put measures in place would eliminate barriers to girl child education.

In the same vein, she called on government at all tiers to promote and substantially fund science education in order to position the nation on the path of technological advancement.

According to her, “Girls are as important as the boys and should be encouraged to go for the peak. Girl education is like sowing the seed which gives rise to a revitalized, cheerful and full grown family plant.

“Educated women have the capacity to bring socio-economic changes. Lack of education denies the girl child the knowledge and skills needed to advance their status in the society.

“Educating the girl child will enable her to realize her full potential, to think, question and judge independently.

“The benefits of educating women are immense for the society. Today our nation can boost of women that have made national and international impact in the likes of Dora Akunyili, Okonjo Iweala, Chimamanda Adichie, Oby Ezekwesili, Amina Mohammed to mention a few.

“Many girls do not have access to adequate education past a certain age. In 2010, the female adult literacy rate(ages 15 and above) for Nigeria was 59.4% in comparison to the male adult literacy rate of 74.4%.”

“The girls should be given unlimited opportunity to proof their mettle in different fields of endeavor especially in the sciences. 

“We must groom the generation of girls who would take over from us as women engineers and make the difference.

“We maximize opportunity for growth of the nation when we tap into the potentials of the girl child”, she said. 

Nwafulugo citing a report in 2014 on Female education in Nigeria, stated that female education has an important impact on the development of a stable, prosperous and healthy nation state resulting in active, productive and empowered citizens. Educating girls develop growth rates, encourages independence of the girl child and reduces social disparities.

“The imperative of grooming the girl child in the field of science and technology cannot be over emphasized.

“We should not discourage our girls from pursuing a career in the sciences especially taking into consideration that the world is being shaped by science and technology. The most advanced nations in the world today are those that are pursuing the path of science and technology. 

“The power of science in shaping the destiny of a nation can’t be overestimated. As a nation we should not lose out in this evolution that is propelled by the power of science. We will be making great progress in this direction when we make capacity building in this area inclusive. 

“Both boys and girls should be allowed to compete together in a healthy environment that is not gender discriminatory. An environment that builds self-confidence in the girl child and motivates her to draw out the best from within her inner recesses”, she said. 

Also President of APWEN Engr. Elizabeth Jumoke Eterigho FNSE, FNSChE said, the scholarship is an awareness program to encourage the girls in the field of science, to raise their confidence and focus their attention on the mind-blowing career opportunities available.

Adding that, the competition is not only educating a nation with the aim to achieve the political, economic, social but also increases individual knowledge and nurtures national development.

“Education is the main pillar of any society. In all spheres of a nation, science education plays a major role.

“Women have earned 57% of all bachelor’s degrees and about half of all in science and engineering (S&E). However, girls’ level of participation in science and engineering fields varies.

“Science is a powerful tool to shape the world and make it a better, safer, more creative, innovative and exciting place to be. Yet, there are a lot of girls who are out of school because of insufficient funds to pay their school fees. Therefore, the need for scholarships to encourage more girls into science to help fulfil the substantial future job opportunities predicted for the engineering sector.

“Early exposure of young girls to STEM, encouraging participation in special programs, support learning opportunities in the community, serve as a mentor, take charge and educate, all these points are better ways of encouraging the girl child to be attracted to STEM.

“The gap between female in science and their male counterpart is still wide. Research revealed that there are only 16.5% of women in engineering. APWEN is working earnestly to close this gap by advocating for more girls to take STEM subjects”, she hinted.

She however encouraged women to invest more of our resources into these girls leading them into a career that encourages innovations that will improve our economy as a nation and the world at large.

Meanwhile, the host, Chairman APWEN, Lagos Chapter, Engr. Monsurah Alagbe, MNSE, FNICE, said the Association has always been an advocate of Girl Child Education, and part of its quest is to educate and encourage Girl Child towards career option in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics).

According to her, the Felicia Agubata Science Competition & Scholarship for Girls in Public Schools, FASCOS, is a yearly competition based on Arithmetic, Quantitative Reasoning, Basic Science and Civic Education is organised in honour of the Past Chairman of this Chapter, and a Past President of the Association, Engr. Felicia Agubata, FNSE for her passion to see STEM being at the forefront of career opportunities in our country.

“Queen Mother as she is fondly called by the members of the Association believes in the adage that says “Catch them Young”, right from the yolk, the reason she has adopted the style in order to naturally stimulate and arouse the interest of these young girls in basic 4,5 and 6 classes across various LGAs of Lagos State in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) path.

“Our continuous contribution in the next two (2) years, is to majorly focus on four (4) Sustainable Development Goals, 4, 5, 11, and 17 from which this program fits perfectly well to address Quality Education issue through healthy collaborations from all the stakeholders, without gender or any barrier for sustainable environment”, she said.

Engr Dr. Felicia Agubata FNSE, said, that the winners of the competition will be mentored by the APWEN and individually so as to be on track. The winner and the first runner up would be given Science kits capable of developing 100 science experiments.

“We want the children from primary school to start innovation. And from secondary school, they will start thinking about STEM.

“The winners would get scholarship throughout the secondary school. They must be of good conduct and prepare themselves for the future.

“Our mission is to ensure that all the districts in Lagos state benefit. The first edition was done in Ikeja, the second in Ikorodu, next would be Ojo, then another district until we have covered all the districts and then bring all of them to a central location for the final competition.

“The scholarship would cover their education the throughout the secondary school. We are hopeful that if we have more funds, we would extend it to university level”, she assured.

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