Winners have emerged at Bille Supernova Girl Scholarship Programme and Science Fair for girls in primary schools, junior and senior secondary schools in Bille Community, Rivers State.
The initiative seeks to stimulate the interest of young girls with focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).
It was organised by the Women in Energy Network (WIEN) with support from Association of Professional Women Engineers of Nigeria (APWEN).
Fifteen girls were selected for the scholarship through written examinations and science experiment across the three cadres.
About 467 students also recieved school uniforms, sandals, bags, and textbooks.
Speaking at the inuaguration of the programme in Port Harcourt, Rivers state, the President of WIEN, Mrs. Funmi Ogbue, said the overreaching objective of the programme, is to ignite passion in young girls and to showcase the socio-economic value and application of STEM in everyday life.
She stated that early contact with the target group will spark off a desire and an ambition of the girls to take a study path that will get them ready for a career in the industrial sector.
According to her, “the Bille Supernova girl scholarship programme and Science fair is conceived to be a special intervention in this direction. It is not just encouraging the education of girls in the country, especially in the rural areas, it is also deliberately focused on early exposure of female pupils to science education with the intentions of sparking the thrill and zeal for innovative thinking.”
Ogbue expressed concern about the poor percentage of female students pursuing science and technical studies, especially in tertiary institutions where the population of female students in science, engineering and technical courses is traditionally lower than that of their male counterparts.
This she added has created a huge gender imbalance and workplace bias that tend to further limit growth of qualified women into industry leadership positions.
“The domination of science, technical and engineering courses by the male students directly translates into real industry labour sitution. Today, energy, manufacturing, construction, mining, and other industries that demand skilled professionals are dominated by men; creating enclaves lack the rare qualities associated with the female gender.
“At WIEN, we believe that addressing these problems should begin with the quality of education the girl child receives from the cradle. Preparation for the career future of any person starts from primary through secondary and tertiary education. And early education tends to be influenced by traditional and cultural roles we prepare for our children,” the president said.
In his remarks, the speacial guest of honour, Adokiye Tombomieye, expressed concern that the girl-child is consistently faced with several barriers to education owing to poverty, cultural norms, and gender-based violence.
Promoting girl-child access to education, especially in the rural areas, he noted, can no longer be the sole responsibility of government. “Private partnerships and non-governmental organisations support are required in this respect. Accordingly, it is not surprising that Women in the Energy (WIEN) industry, established ‘The Supernova Girl’ initiative to promote female involvement in STEM related fields.”
He expressed hope that the proposed scholarships will address a major concern of the beneficiaries.
“The far-reaching gains will be in the future supply of engineers, doctors, academics, nurses, and scientists for our community and the nation at large.”
Some of the guests present at the occasion include the Agbaniye-Jike the 18th, Amayanabo of Bille Kingdom; HRM King Igbikingeri Ngwowari Cornelius Herbert and wife of the Rivers State Governor, Hon Justice Eberechi Nyesom Wike, school administrators among others.