By MAGNUS EZE
For the Mnister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, the key policy direction of the present administration is bequeathing a generation where Science, Technology and Innovation drive the economy. Little wonder the government promised free science education. But unfortunately, several Nigerian children are scared of science subjects, especially Mathematics.
Nonetheless, a non-governmental organization, Society of Women Engineers, Technologists and Scientists (SWETS) is poised to change the story as they carry out aggressive advocacy to make students particularly the girl-child develop interest in science in order for them to take careers in science related fields like, Engineering and Innovation.
One clear voice on this project is the permanent secretary of the ministry, Dr. Habiba Lawal. An engineer, according to her, the fear most girls have about science subjects was make belief; wrong perception created by what they heard from adults.
Speaking recently at a symposium and exhibition of eco-friendly technologies organised by SWETS Africa, Abuja chapter, to commemorate “2016 World Environment Day” with the theme: “Combating Climate Change is Everybody’s Business”, the permanent secretary said: “The most important thing is to have teachers that can put them through. I urge them to take up courses in science, so that they can take up studies in Research and Development for Nigeria to move to the next level as global player.”
She appealed to parents, teachers and other stakeholders to encourage female children to have interest in science subjects that would lead to their taking careers in science and technology.
Lawal also advised the youth to desist from burning firewood, cutting down trees indiscriminately, as these activities increase global warming; pointing out that Nigerians ought to live in such way that the next generation would be accommodated:
“We can meet our needs without jeopardizing the future of next generation, which is the objective of the sustainable development.”
Between science and environment
President of SWETS, Mrs. Vera Egwuatu, said the forum was to sensitize, work on the minds of the young ones to make them develop interest in science:
”The group discovered that our young ones are picking interest in music, entertainment but what is key to any nation’s development is science and technology. We want to see how we can catch them young, at very tender age. We have programmes for primary schools, secondary schools and universities.
“We are doing this year because the opportunity came and we felt that we have a duty to do this. We want to get them study sciences and become engineers and technologists, making them know that the fears they are having about science and technology are not there, because most of them are discouraged choosing career in these area.
They have the perception that sciences are for men and not for them. We are actually presenting ourselves as role models so that they could see us and know that they can do it.”
On the choice of the theme, Egwuatu said: “The weather we have now was not what we had 20 years ago. It is actually everybody’s business to guide the environment for this Climate Change to be combated. Science is about environment and environment is about science.”
She urged youth to embrace technologies that help in combating climate change in the country.
She tasked the youth, mostly female students drawn from tertiary institutions of learning, to promote activities that would mitigate the impact of climate change.
She said technologies such as renewable energy production and energy efficient systems such as solar power systems, biogas, bio-fuels and other sources of clean energy and eco-friendly technologies should be promoted and embraced by the youths.
Egwuatu hinted that SWETS would embark on awareness creation and enlightenment to the local community in the Federal Capital Territory on climate change impacts, adaptation and mitigation, with a view to building resilience in such communities.
She added that younger generation would be trained to have the right attitude and mind-set to promote environmental sustainability and sustainable development:
“We are making a clarion call to all and sundry to commit to combating climate change in every human endeavour. This should include positive attitudinal change and practical steps at home, school, office, business places and the community at large.”