Hundreds of female students of public Secondary Schools in Kwara State have undergone training in Information Computer Technology as a measure to bridge the observable wide gap with their male counterparts in the field of technology.
A Lagos based Non-Governmental Orgnisation (NGO), Women's Technology Empowerment Centre (W.TEC) spearheaded the training, which held at Queen Elizabeth Secondary School in Ilorin, the state capital.
Themed W.TEC Academy Sensitisation Programme, the training attracted participants from secondary schools across the 16 Local Government Areas of the state.
On the sideline of the training, the Programme Officer of the organisation, Mrs Folashade Braimoh, said it was a disturbing trend the technology field attracts more men than women, hence the effort of her office to bridge the gap.
She stated that the interest of W.TEC was to see more women, especially female students taking interest in ICT and turn into creators of the needed tools in the world of technology.
Mrs Braimoh disclosed that the NGO, floated in 2008 had conducted ICT training for several female students in Lagos State, saying that the urge to make more women technological complaint informed their coming to Kwara State.
"We are non governmental organisation; we empower, educate and encourage girls and women socially and economically through active involvement in ICT. We do this through different programmes; ICT workshops, training, conference and technology camp. These are what we do.
"We are here for one of the programmes we have been running in Secondary Schools in Lagos State. So, we want to extend it to Secondary Schools girls in Kwara. We have been do it since 2014 and our organisation was founded in 2008. So, W.TEC is an ICT programme for girls in Secondary Schools, which teaches them to be users and even creators of ICT tools. We want them to be the ones creating those tools.
"We are not comfortable with the fact we have more men in technology than women; in fact, the world is not comfortable with that. That is why we are trying to encourage more women into this field", Mrs Braimoh said.
Also speaking, the Programme Manager of W.TEC, Mrs Maryam Abdulsalam, said the NGO resolved to involve female students of public secondary schools in Kwara State, because most parents lack the resources to assist their children and wards to be technologically literate.
She stated that her organisation worked in synergy with the state Ministry of Education and Human Capital Development and the Kwara State branch of National Library of Nigeria to ensure that the training records huge success.
Mrs Abdulsalam, who maintained that the training programme featured over 300 participants, said data collected on the research carried out on the number of female students with interest in ICT formed the fulcrum of the training.
The W.TEC programme manager assured that the organisation would make the programme a continuum, saying that it would afford more women opportunity to get themselves trained and take special interest in the area of technology.
"We based in Lagos; we are trying to bring the project into Kwara State. Our mission is to bridge the gap between the male and female gender in the field of technology in general. We are trying to bring in more women into technology. We look at it that it is very good to catch them young through awareness and empowerment of girls from the beginning. They can build their careers around it.
"We resolved that we should bring our programme to Kwara State through our W.TEC Academy where we can involve public Secondary Schools because we believe public secondary school girls don't really have the power to be involved ICT, may be their parents are not buoyant enough to get them computers or the necessary things they need to get them exposed into technology. So, we feel that if we introduce this programme, it would help them to build their capacity and also in such a way give them interest in technology programme. We take them through practicals so that whatever they have learnt would stick to their heads.
"It is a continuous programme, we cannot say we can cover so number now. We take 10 schools at a time and in each schools, we have 25 students represented.
"Following the research, there is a wide gap when you compare women and men in technology. It was even the data we got that prompted the Executive Director of W.TEC to think of how to bring more women into technology, how do we bridge this gap, and that was the major foundation of this organisation", she said.
The Head of Kwara State Branch, National Library of Nigeria, Ilorin, Mrs Kafayat Olani, who gave pep talk at the training, also decried the poor number of women in the field of technology, expressed hope that they can also perform well if given the opportunity like their male counterparts.
She stated that female students need to be trained, mentored and exposed to ICT world, saying they should take up the challenge since they have the ability.
While noting that government cannot solely shoulder the responsibility of exposing female students to technology, Mrs Olani called for involvement of parents and more private organisations to be able to assist and build confidence in them.
"It is a great issue and we believe if you give everybody a level playing ground, the women can also do very well. In fact, we top technology industry in Nigeria today. It is been headed by women like Funke Opeke and others. So, we believe if the younger ones have opportunity, they will also match the men, not matching the men in terms of being a corps but contributing to national development.
"We need training, retraining and sensitisation (of women), exposing and mentoring them that they have the ability, they should rise up and take up the task so that they will also be there.
"The government can't do everything alone, that is why the NGO and the private sector are coming to play before we get our time behind lag, and I believe parents too can also encourage their children by getting them meagre midget that technology can afford to enable them get more knowledge practically. We must note that computers are not as many as regard the number of students in schools, so it is not possible that every student will be able to touch the computer at the same speed and level. So, the parents at home would have to encourage, may be buy computers or small laptops that can help assist the children at home.
"We also believe that if we have regular seminars, trainings druing long vacation like W.TEC is involved, it will solve a lot of problem and bridge the gap", Mrs Olani said.