The Association of Professional Women Engineers in Nigeria (APWEN) recently, trained 70 teachers drawn from across the country in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects.
The theme of the training: “Train the trainer” was held in 18 centres which are Abeokuta, Port Harcourt, Abuja, Lagos, Kano, Owerri, Kaduna, Benin, Bayelsa, Osun, Ogun, Akwa Ibom among others. It was designed to build their capacity to impact on the girl-child to embrace STEM subjects in their various schools.
The two-day train-the trainers workshop, was held in partnership with the Royal Academy of Engineering, via virtual conference as teachers drawn from the six geopolitical zones in the country participated in the trained.
The organisers of workshop said the 70 beneficiary teachers will retrain 200 others in various schools in the country to enhance girls to embrace the engineering profession.
Speaking at the event, President of APWEN, Mrs. Funmilola Ojelade said the virtual conference on SheEngineer STEM training for teachers, is an indication that the Association is an educational service organisation, meant to train, encourage girls to take up STEM subjects as well as take interest in engineers courses.
She also expressed concern that female students don’t like STEM subjects, especially Mathematics and that with programme like this, the Association will help to change their attitude towards STEM subjects.
“So when this is tackled from the beginning, there is every certainty that there will be more girls taking up engineering courses. Through the Boot Camp over the years, we have been able to encourage female students to embrace the subjects. It is our focus to train STEM teachers. They will return to their schools to retrain other science teachers so that they can teach students. Then we will have hope that the girls will study engineering courses, ‘’ she said.
According to her, APWEN mission is to increase the number of girls interested in engineering courses than what is obtainable in today’s world where the male are more. So with the impact on the nation will ginger more girls to opt for engineering programmes.
Ojelade disclosed that for schools in Lagos, APWEN will approach the commissioners for education to obtain permission for ten students per school, from each local government to spread the training in schools in the state.
In her remarks, Dr. Felicia Agubata, Project Director and Grant awardee, SheEngineer Invent It, Build It Programme, said through the capacity building workshop, the association was out to bridge the gender gap in the engineering profession.
According to her, “Engineering seems to be a male dominated profession in Nigeria based on research carried out in 2019. Our aim is to encourage girls to take up STEM and stay in engineering throughout this project.
“The sky is actually the starting point for female engineers in Nigeria and globally. We are planning to introduce a policy for women to continue to build capacity for teachers and create ways to promote awareness as well as dispel stereotypes that the profession is for the male folks,” she stressed.
The facilitator of the workshop, Dr. Evi Viza, who is also a Program Leader, Quality and Project Management, University of the West Scotland, expressed concern about the gender gap in the profession, stating that the female folks are smarter than their male counterpart.
Viza, who stressed the importance of STEM education, described engineering as a scientific field that makes the understanding of the natural world.