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Afro-Tech Girls Wants More Women in STEM-related Careers

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Afro-Tech Girls STEM at Home Kit

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

Nigeria joined the rest of the world to celebrate the International Day of Women and Girls in Science held on Thursday, February 11, 2021.

This year’s event was themed Women Scientists at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19 and it provided an opportunity to look into ways females can be encouraged to increase their involvement in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM).

In Nigeria, the day was celebrated by Afro-Tech Girls, a non-profit organization focused on encouraging and empowering females in STEM.

The organisation, in partnership with IHS Nigeria, a subsidiary of IHS Towers, organised a virtual conference where participants addressed some critical issues faced by young females looking to build careers in STEM.

This was done in the hope that confidence and soft skills will be improved to drive more interest and participation amongst young females.

The interactive session had over 100 participants in attendance online and a further 100 girls from public secondary schools watching from their classrooms, with female speakers from the medical, science and technology sectors tutoring the participants.

The speakers said the theme of this year’s celebration reinforced present challenges associated with the current pandemic and highlighted how women in science are currently playing a critical role to address these challenges.

Some of these speakers were Dr Ngozi Onyia, MD, Paelon Memorial Hospital; Ms Cima Sholotan, Director of Sustainability & Corporate Communications, IHS Nigeria; and Ms Yetunde Adewunmi, PhD, Microbiologist, Wadsworth Center, New York State Department of Health.

Others were Dr Mobola Oyefule, Medical Doctor, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota; Dr Kemi Ezenwanne, Medical Doctor, Armoured Shield Medical Centre; Ms Jessica Uwoghiren, Data Analytics Expert; and Ms Gloria Okereke, Team Lead, Network Operating Centre, IHS Nigeria.

The event was also used as a soft launch of a longer-term partnership between Afro-Tech Girls and IHS Nigeria and in her words, the co-founder of Afro-Tech Girls, Ms Adeola Shasanya, noted that, “We are grateful for organisations like IHS Nigeria that have committed to improving STEM outcomes in Nigeria particularly within young females.

“We are confident that their support will go a long way to ensure these females are equipped with the skills required to compete and contribute immensely in STEM-related careers.”

Modupe Gbadeyanka is a fast-rising journalist with Business Post Nigeria. Her passion for journalism is amazing. She is willing to learn more with a view to becoming one of the best pen-pushers in Nigeria. Her role models are the duo of CNN's Richard Quest and Christiane Amanpour.

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Education

Nigeria to Host International Conference on School Safety

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School Safety

By Sodeinde Temidayo David

The fourth edition of the International Conference on Safe School Declaration (ICSSD) will hold in Nigeria, the federal government has confirmed.

This is the first time the event will take place in Africa and it is coming at a time Nigeria is working tirelessly to tackle the incessant kidnapping of schoolchildren by terrorists in the northern part of the country.

It was gathered that other 112 members of the group will converge on Nigeria for the event to exchange experiences, learning, and present their strategies, progress, as well as challenges in making the commitment to safe education a reality for all children in conflict situations.

The Minister of State for Education, Mr Adamu Adamu, disclosed on Sunday, October 17 that the conference will build on previous events by galvanizing support for the Safe Schools Declaration (SSD) and monitoring UN member states’ progress in carrying out the declarations commitments to better protect learners and learning institutions.

The conference tagged Ensuring Safe Education for All: From Commitment to Practice will commence on October 25 and finish on October 27, 2021.

According to the Minister, the programme will also serve to maintain and amplify the momentum of the SSD and its commitment to making safe education for all a reality.

It will also be used to strengthen implementation of the declaration by sharing good practice in implementing key commitments in the declaration, inspire other states to adopt the practice within their own context and forge global cooperation in the protection of education and deterring military use of schools and universities by bringing together education, defence, and foreign affairs ministries.

In addition, the confab on school safety will also be a forum for multilateral and civil society organizations to discuss prevention and response measures, and Identifying actions that governments can take to better achieve accountability for attacks on education and justice for the victims by building and strengthening international and national legal mechanisms.

He said Nigeria is co-hosting the conference with the African Union Commission (AUC), the governments of Argentina, Norway, and Spain, as well as the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack (GCPEA).

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Education

Oyo Threatens to Revoke Unexecuted Contracts

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Revoke Unexecuted Contracts

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

The Oyo State Government has threatened to revoke unexecuted contracts on renovation and construction projects under its 2012-2018 UBEC/SUBEB Intervention Project from defaulting contractors in the state.

This threat was made on Thursday by the Executive Chairman of the Oyo State Universal Basic Education Board, Dr Nureni Adeniran.

Speaking with the 22 contractors in Ibadan, the state capital, Mr Adeniran this action may likely be taken under the breach of contract terms.

He noted that many of the contracts, including those awarded by the previous administration had been dragging since 2018, adding that this is in contravention of the time frame of the contractual agreement which stipulated two weeks for completion of borehole and a maximum of 24 weeks for completion of model schools.

Mr Adeniran said the board would not hesitate to apply appropriate sanctions against these defaulting contractors, who have failed to meet project specifications in the execution of UBEC/SUBEB jobs in the state.

He added that the contractors may answer queries from the anti-graft body, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), after the November 2021 deadline, adding that they also risk being blacklisted by UBEC for further contracts of UBEC/SUBEB nationwide.

“The message here is clear, the job has taken too long, your failure to deliver on the agreed dates is affecting the wellbeing of our children, we will reverse the contract,” he said.

“We have issued several warnings, this is about the third time. We need to revoke the contract and give those that will do the job. The guideline is clear and we are not going to compromise,” he warned.

The SUBEB boss, who was at the meeting in the company of the management staff of the Board, queried the rationale behind the contractors’ refusal to deliver results, despite the mobilization fee Government had given them.

The educationist noted that as part of concerted efforts to enforce standards, as well as ensure that there are only appropriate executions of projects, the board in 2019 did not revoke their contracts, despite the fact that they were issued by the former administration.

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Education

Katsina Has 775,000 Out-of-School Children—SUBEB Director

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Out-of-School Children

By Sodeinde Temidayo David

The United Nations Children’s Funds (UNICEF) in collaboration with the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) has commenced a new campaign on the rising number of out-of-school children in Katsina State.

The campaign tagged Back to School and Behavioural Change, is with the aim to prevent the threat that could be caused if there is a high number of children who would lack a formal education.

The scheme, which is targeted at returning over 200,000 out-of-school children, including Al-Majirai to schools in 2021, is supported by the UNICEF and sponsored by Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).

Speaking at the unveiling of the programme, the State Commissioner for Education, Mr Badamasi Lawal, noted that the outbreak of COVID-19 and banditry had triggered the number of out-of-school children in the state, particularly in Kafur and Kankara Local Government Areas.

According to statistics released by the State SUBEB Director, Social Mobilisation, Mr Abdulmalik Bello, the state has 775,000 out-of-school children across the 34 local government areas of the state as a result of banditry and COVID-19 pandemic.

Mr Lawal further expressed that with the new flagship, the back to school campaign would reduce the number of out-of-school children across the 34 Local Government Areas of the state.

The state commissioner recalled that the state government, under the leadership of Governor Aminu Bello Masari, had prioritised the education sector hence the employment of 10,000 teachers, prompt payment of teachers’ salary and timely provision of instructional materials to schools.

He, therefore, tasked traditional and religious leaders in the state to support the state government’s effort of uplifting the education sector by ensuring the enrolment, retention and completion of school by all children irrespective of gender affiliations.

On his part, the SUBEB Executive Chairman, Mr Lawal Buhari Daura, applauded UNICEF for supporting the state government in curtailing the number of out-of-school children and other educational challenges afflicting the state.

Following this development, UNICEF reaffirmed the goal to reach the most disadvantaged children and adolescents, and to protect the rights of every child, and to advocate for the protection of children’s rights, helping to meet their basic needs, and giving them a fair chance to reach their full potential.

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