The Minister of Science and Technology, Ogbonnaya Onu, has said there is a decreased interest by Nigerian youth to study science and science-related courses.
The minister also said the government is ready to address the declining interest of young Nigerians in science studies through the ‘’Catching them Young’’ initiative offered by the ministry.
In a statement signed by the spokesperson of the ministry, Abdul Ganiyu Aminu and sent to us. Mr Onu said this while addressing young scientists at the final examination of the Young Nigerian Scientists Presidential Award (YONSPA) on Monday.
Mr Onu said YONSPA is a deliberate programme by the ministry to take science to the grass root and encourage Nigerian youth to participate in science and technology.
He said the YONSPA is aimed at making Young Nigerians develop an interest in Science and Mathematics early in life.
According to him, the essence of the programme is to dispel fear amongst students who had the notion that science is a difficult subject to study, assuring that the future is now bright for those who embrace a career in Science, Technology and Innovation.
“The programme will help them to explore the moon, heavenly bodies, ocean wealth in order to reduce poverty and contribute to solving major national regional and international programs,” he said.
He also challenged Nigerian scientists to find a cure for coronavirus (COVID-19) which is ravaging many countries across the globe.
The coronavirus outbreak was declared a global health emergency of international concern by the WHO in January when cases of the disease kept on spreading within China and other countries.
The minister said the excellent ones in the examination will be presented with a Presidential Award by the president, Muhammadu Buhari, at the 4th Technology and Innovation Expo, scheduled to hold in Abuja this month.
He said three best students, at the 2nd and 3rd edition of the program, are now enjoying Scholarship up to PhD. levels,” he said.
According to research from Brookings — a Washington based research institution — more Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)-oriented metropolitan economies perform strongly on a wide range of economic indicators, from innovation to employment.
The research also shows that by 2030, more than half of the jobs in the world will be STEM — Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics related.
Consequently, it was also reported that traditional education in Nigeria is failing, with STEM education being the worst hit. Students are largely uninspired to pursue their passion in STEM-related fields, thereby leaving them unprepared for the opportunities and challenges of the 21st-century world.
Like the YONSPA of the ministry of science and technology, the integrated digital payment and commerce company, Interswitch in 2018 also launched an initiative to promote STEM education in Nigeria by providing the right support and reward for students.
The initiative, called Interswitch SPAK, is poised to support young Nigerians who are interested in acquiring the problem-solving skills that come with a solid STEM education, in order to fix the challenges facing Nigeria in various sectors of the economy.