Former Minister of Education, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, has commended Mastercard, a leading technology company in the global payment space, and Youth for Technology Foundation (YTF), an international non-for-profit organisation, on the Nigeria launch of the Girls4Tech initiative.
Girls4Tech is Mastercard’s signature education program designed for young girls around with the goal of inspiring girls to build skills in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). Speaking at the launch held at the RiverBank School, Dr. Ezekwesili commended Mastercard and YTF for making the educational investment to encourage more girls to take up interest in STEM subjects.
Addressing the young girls, Dr. Ezekwesili admonished them to emulate the likes of Sheryl Sandberg and Elon Musk who are making giant strides in the field of technology. She added: “If Nigeria is going to become a new and different country, it depends on you. You are the human capital that will completely change the basis of Nigeria’s development. Your generation is heralding the 4th industrial revolution.”
Delivering her welcome address, Omoke Adebanjo, Mastercard’s Area Business Head for West Africa, said Mastercard has the goal of reaching out to 200,000 girls through the Girls4Tech programme by the year 2020.
She noted that there was a gap in the amount of jobs requiring STEM skills and the number of women taking up the opportunities. Adebanjo said: “According to the latest statistics, about 80 percent of jobs that will be created in the next decade will require some combination of science, technology, engineering and math. Yet, women make up only 30 percent of the science and technology workforce. Therein lies the importance of the Girls4Tech initiative.
She further added: “Subjects such Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics are going to change the world in the nearest future and more girls are needed to take up more interest in these study areas. Since the inception of the Girls4Tech initiative, Mastercard has successfully trained about 30,000 girls. We leverage our employees as role models and mentors. We also work through collaborations, hence our partnership with YTF on this initiative.”
Njideka Harry, President of YTF implored the girls to take advantage of the opportunity of the exposure to the basics of the STEM subjects. She said: “The opportunities in the field of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics are immense, hence young girls should take up more interest. Youth for Technology Foundation has been in existence for over 17 years and we have been empowering individuals and today, we are launching Girls4Tech initiative in partnership with Mastercard to boost the study in STEM education for young girls.”
The highlight of the occasion was the splitting of the young girls into groups and subsequently trained and mentored by staff of Mastercard and YTF. The young girls took turns in the interactive sessions which were the areas of cryptology, digital convergence and algorithm.
During the sessions, the volunteers were able to provide concrete examples of how global science and math standards play out in the real world. This was achieved by providing real life examples through hands-on activities that illustrated each concept, thereby making learning effortless and fun.
The Girls4Tech is a global initiative by Mastercard, launched three years ago to support the global drive to encourage more young girls to undertake the STEM subjects. Through the platform Mastercard has been helped to inspire young girls’ participation in STEM subjects and increase awareness and visibility for STEM.