Concerned by what they termed the wide differing ratio between boys and girls in technical education, stakeholders spanning over 40 colleges and polytechnics of technology under the aegis of Women in Technical Education and Employment (WITED), have convened at the Yaba College of Technology (YABATECH), Lagos to chart the way forward for addressing this gap.
Declaring open WITED's three-day National Coordinating Committee Meeting and National Awards, Tuesday, wife of Lagos State Governor, Dame Abimbola Fashola advocated the need to address the low participation of girl-children in science and technical education in the country.
She said that for Nigeria to be among the industrialised nations by the year 2020, there was need for more commitment to new and innovative teaching methods and techniques that will attract female children to technical education.
According to her, science and technology has remained the bedrock of industrial development that every nation aspires to attain, stressing that it has become imperative for the Nigerian girl-child to be incorporated in the roadmap of the country's technological development.
Fashola noted that WITED was established to address the issues pertaining to participation of girls in science and technical education which has been for long dominated by male children.
"At this stage, the truth is that more needs to be done; aside from paper work and proffering solutions, we must put into practice our findings, monitor the progress and draw up the statistics to prove that women can make the positive change required in the industrialization of our country.
"We have women engineers, women computer experts; so why are we not on the world map of nations with industrialized identities such as India - for Information Technology, Japan for cars, among others?" she queried.
Mrs. Fashola, however, called on the members of WITED and other stakeholders, including parents to always encourage female children to go into technical education.
"As role models, you can champion this cause by sharing your success stories and personal experiences which will serve as a strong motivating factor and inspiration for young girls to tread this path and also facilitate the process of national industrialization and technological advancement of our country."
While commending the organisers of the event, the first lady expressed hope that the workshop would provide practical opportunities for female children to be innovators and make a difference in the industrialization of Nigeria.
On her part, the National Coordinator, WITED, Engr. (Mrs.) Frances Osiki disclosed that WITED was established 14 years ago as a result of the fact that it was recognised globally that there is exceedingly low participation and involvement of the girl-child in science, mathematics and technical education.
Suing for the importance of science and technology in industrial development and advancement of a nation, Osiki advocated that this trend needs to be corrected in Nigeria.
Her words: "Research has shown that 50 per cent of the citizens of our great nation are females, coupled with the fact that over 50 per cent of the entire populace does not actually share this vision or are not opportune to take part in science and technological education. Therefore, as our nation is now serious about technological emancipation, if this low participation of the girl-children is not addressed, the journey to meeting up with vision 20-20:20 will be very slow."
Speaking further, the Civil Engineer and Senior Lecturer at Auchi Polytechnic, Auchi, Edo State affirmed that for Nigeria to be fully emancipated as desired, "we need a cohesive participation and involvement of girl-children and females, especially those with the flair for science and technological education."
The don, however, revealed that WITED across the country has an annual schedule of activities, which centres on taking sensitization programmes to the grassroots.
"We pay sensitization visits to schools, mainly primary, secondary and tertiary institutions. We have to catch them young, which is why according to our annual time-table, we go to school heads and principals, to seek their consent in addressing the girl-children on the need to get involved in the science and technical education. We also recognize the place of our traditional rulers, so we go to them and sensitize them on the need for the involvement of the girl-children in their communities in technical education."