Women in Technology in Nigeria (WITIN), in collaboration with the Ministry of Communications Technology, is set to boost Information and Communications Technology (ICT) education among Nigerian girls by giving them full access to technology.
The collaboration between the ministry and WITIN, is part of measures to further bridge the technology gap between girls and boys in the country.
Determined to achieve the task, WITIN, at the weekend in Lagos, hosted the 2014 edition of the Iridescent's Technovation Challenge, where it exposed girls to new channels of technology access.
Over 50 girls from about 13 secondary schools in Lagos and Ogun state, attended the technology programme that was specifically designed for the girl child.
The technovation challenge, according to WITIN, is a global technology entrepreneurship programme for girls, created to discover their ingenuity in apps development and programming.
Coordinator and President of WITIN, Mrs. Martha Omoekpe-Alade, said the programme was successful and would be extended to schools in other states of the country. According to her, Delta State and Abuja version of the programme would come up on February 1 and 8 respectively.
WITIN is the regional coordinator of the initiative designed to boost the girl child education, which is an initiative of the Minister of Communications Technology, Mrs. Omobola Johnson.
The minister had lamented the wide gap that exists between the girl child and the boy child in participating in technology related courses in schools and promised to work with already established bodies like WITIN to further expose the girl child to technology education.
Johnson, who blamed societal norms and fear on the part of Nigerian girls to embrace science and technology related subjects in schools, said the collaboration with WITIN was a deliberate move to bridge the technology gap between girls and boys in Nigerian schools. The minister called on parents and guardians to encourage their girl child and ward into taking courses in science and technology, so as to bridge the gap early.
Omoekpe-Alade, who promised Nigerians that she would do everything to bridge the technology gap, said the technovation challenge contest remained the largest and longest-running global technology competition exclusively for girls to inspire the pursuit of STEM, and acronym coined from Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
"The contest allows girls to learn how to code and develop mobile apps, conduct market research, write business plans, and create a "pitch" for funding. They are also taught life skills such as how to identify a problem, design and test a solution, collaborate with a team, and communicate to different audiences," Martha said.
Participating schools this year include, Queensland Academy; Vivian Fowler; Fountain Heights; Unilag international School; Flor-Peak Comprehensive college; Homeland College; Honeyland Schools; and King David Model School among others.
She said each team that participated worked with a classroom teacher at their school and a female mentor/role model.
While encouraging parents to pay keen interest to what their girls are into, Martha disclosed that the national pitch for the technovation challenge contest would hold in April in Nigeria while the world pitch would hold in California, USA around May this year.
According to her, last year, the winners from Nigeria emerged top 10 globally, and that the winning team developed a mobile application to solve traffic problem in Nigeria.
The Vice Principal, Academics, Queensland Academy, Mr. Olokuntoye Adetayo said the apps development and entrepreneurship mentoring would not only help bring the best in the girls; but also inspire them into creativity and fundamentals of technological innovation.
He called for support from various stakeholders in the country to help give the initiative the needed support that would enable it to grow quickly.