BY DAYO ADESULU
Bridge Community Schools have bridged the gap in science education for the Nigerian girl child with a science curriculum, learning materials, classroom experiments and low cost to parents in some of the most impoverished communities of Nigeria.
This is noteworthy as it celebrates the International Day of Women and Girls in Science on 11th February 2021.
Bridge Nigeria, a network of nursery and primary community schools that serve low-income communities across Lagos and Osun Stateiscommemorating the International Day of Women and Girls in Science with science lessons that allow children, girls, in particular, to explore, experiment and be inspired by science. This is on the backdrop of the critical role women researchers have played in different stages of the fight against COVID-19, from advancing the knowledge on the virus to developing techniques for testing, and finally to creating the vaccine against the virus.
With recent reports that more boys than girls go on to have science careers and the out-of-school children aged 5-14 years in Nigeria numbered at about 10 million (UNICEF), The advocacy for the girl child education in Nigeria needs attention and remedial action with specific programs and laws instituted to reverse the gap in girl child education engendered by traditional cultural and religious prejudices.
The measures to improve girl child education in Nigeria is welcome especially if it results in more participation of girls and women in the field of science. This is because in economic terms the involvement of women in science is a necessity as they are regarded as an important factor of growth and development especially for developing countries where underutilization of women in science is equated with a loss in human resources translating to a major impediment to economic growth since a critical mass of scientists and engineers will help to ensure sustainability. Also in practical terms the involvement of women in science because it creates a diverse workforce, reflecting a wider variety of experiences and views, which greatly benefit the scientific enterprise as well as society as a whole, women bring different strengths to science than men.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), a specialised agency of the United Nations aimed at promoting world peace and security through international cooperation in education, the sciences, and culture marks this year 2021 International Day of Women and Girls in Science under the theme: Women Scientists at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19 which emphasises how the pandemic has shown the critical role of women researchers in different stages of the fight against COVID-19, from advancing the knowledge on the virus to developing techniques for testing, and finally to creating the vaccine against the virus, while also negatively impacting on female participation in science, including at the early stage of their education by exacerbating gender disparities in the education systems, which need to be addressed by new policies, initiatives and mechanisms to support women and girls in science.
Bridge community schools curriculum ensures age-appropriate basic science and technology lessons to encourage and inspire pupils, particularly girls to explore career choices in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
According to a Bridge Nigeria’s spokesperson, “Bridge community schools actively pursue science opportunities such as our partnership with Code Lagos, in their ambition to teach one million Lagosians to code, through which some of our girls experienced 8 weeks code training course with PYLadies an international mentorship organisation for women in coding, which led to one of our girls Sophia Irozuru receiving a standing ovation at the PyCon global conference where she was a guest speaker on her experience learning to code.”
Science experiments are practical in classroom lessons enabling pupils to directly engage with the possibilities that science brings, igniting the kind of passions that start the journey of some of our greatest women in science.