By Funmi Ogundare
The Association of Professional Women Engineers of Nigeria (APWEN), Warri chapter, in collaboration with Compos Mentis Foundation, has unveiled the Nnoli Akpedeye Girls in STEM Scholarship (NAGISS) scheme.
The scholarship project was launched recently at a public lecture organised by the APWEN, Warri chapter to honour two of its ‘quintessential engineers’. Five female secondary school students from Delta State emerged the beneficiaries of the maiden edition.
The association in a statement, said the scholarship scheme which was targeted at indigent female students in secondary schools across the 25 local government areas in the state, is expected to take effect on the winners from September 2023 throughout their university level.
It said the objective is to encourage girls in the area of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) with a view to bridging the existing gap between the female and their male counterparts in the field.
Five schools, two from Warri South and three from Udu Local Government Areas participated in the 2023 maiden edition with one winner emerging from each school.
The winners are: Eseoghene Ohobore (College of Commerce, Warri) and Blessing Miterhere Blessing (Essi college, Warri). Others are: Success Apah (Okpaka Secondary School), Favour Edegware (Ekete Secondary school) and Best Onoriode (Aladja Secondary School) from Udu Local Government Area.
Speaking at the unveiling, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Contego Servo Limited, Nnoli Akpedeye, said that the scholarship would be an annual event.
At the public lecture, themed, ‘STEM Education, a Catalyst for Societal Development’, former President of the association, Dr. Felicia Agubata, called on government at all levels and the private sector to invest in science education for sustainable growth in the country.
In her keynote, she described education as a catalyst for growth, adding that sciences tend to be more innovative and competitive in the global marketplace.
She noted that the advancement in technology has changed virtually every aspect of lives, and that STEM education has fostered technological literacy and empowered individuals to leverage on technology productively.
“STEM forms the backbone of progress and innovation in the modern world. As we move further into the 21st century, the role of STEM education is becoming increasingly pivotal in shaping the future of our society.
“The challenges facing the world today are complex and multifaceted be it climate change, energy crisis, health pandemic or socio-economic disparities. Solving these problems demands a highly knowledgeable, skilled and tee-savvy workforce.”
STEM education, Agubata stated, equips individuals with the tools to analyse problems critically, nurtures critical thinking and problem-solving skills, adding that a well prepared STEM workforce would attract investment, foster entrepreneurship and by implication, pave way for news industries and job opportunities.
She called for sustained investment in education by improving on learning infrastructure, teacher training, curriculum development, scholarship and other financial support system to inspire the STEM learners.
Also speaking, President of APWEN, Dr. Elizabeth Eterigho said the association is working hard to bridge the gap between male and female engineers in the country.
“APWEN has been a catalyst for advancing the professional development of female engineers, technologists and scientists.
“It inspires young girls in STEM education and mentoring engineering students through seminars and conferences.
“STEM is a powerful tool to shape the world and make it a better, safer and more creative, innovative and exciting place to be,” Eterigho aid.
She called for collective efforts to encourage more girls to venture into sciences, to help fulfill the substantial future job opportunities predicted for the engineering sector.
The Chairman, APWEN, Warri chapter, Linda Guwor, stated that the topic was chosen to further advocate for more female representation in the STEM education and projects in engineering field.
Highlight of the programme was the presentation of award of excellence to the founding Chairman, APWEN, Warri chapter, Ozo Nwokeabia and Nnoli Akpedeye, as well as mentoring of some female students from some secondary schools in sciences within Warri South and Udu Local Government Areas. (This Day)