Interswitch, an integrated digital payment and commerce company, Wednesday, launched a special intervention program aimed at reviving Nigerian students’ interest in Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education.
InterSwitch has doled out N20Million for the program dubbed ‘Interswitch SPAK’.
The initiative, the company said, is targeted that at resuscitating waning interest from students in the face of the challenge of poverty, poor school funding, waning interest from students, to poorly trained teachers, inadequate learning aids, incessant strikes, among others that have been identified as the factors militating growth of STEM education in the country.
Speaking during the launch of the inaugural initiative, Chief Marketing Officer, Interswitch Group, Cherry Eromosele reckoned that Nigerian 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.
And that owing to existing incompetence levels, a large number of jobs in Nigeria’s employment ecosystem have been outsourced to expatriates.
She however explained that with Initiatives like the SPAK the trend will be reverted and on the long run there will be an increased competitiveness and improve employment levels for Nigerians.
She further explained that “To kick start the initiative, a national science competition is set to begin in April 2018. The competition will feature students from all states of the federation competing in core STEM subjects like Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Mathematics.
“We are ready as part of our Cooperate Social Responsibility (CSR) as company is to provide the right support and reward for students and other stakeholders who will avail the SPAK nationwide initiative designed to promote STEM education among Senior Secondary School students.
“We are targeting year 11 students only,( SS2 students) for this SPAK pilot scheme. We want six best students from each school to be registered for the initiative. We have tried to be gender balance by stating that at least two female students must be registered among the six participating students as part of the registration prerequisite.
“The registration has started already and schools can fill the form online for free through the Interswtich SPAK website. The registration will last for eight weeks after which we will conduct a national level competition in conjunction with National Examinations Council (NECO).
“The first students in the competition will be awarded with N7.5Million -five-year university scholarship, a Mac laptop and gold trophy; the second will receive a N4.5Million-three-year university scholarship, a laptop and a silver trophy ,while the third person will get N1Million -two-years scholarship, a laptop, and a bronze trophy.
“We understand that a lot is needed to be done to get it right but as a matter of cause-and-effect, we hope this initiative will open more doors of opportunities for improved STEM skills at the grass roots, equal greater employment, lower rate of job losses, higher exports and a direct positive impact on Nigeria’s GDP.”
According to the Registrar; National Examinations Council (NECO), Professor Charles Uwakwe who lauded the initiative was optimistic that it will invariably increase student interests and enrollment in STEM subjects, among other benefits.
He stated that the examination body has thrown it full weight behind the initiative by providing provision for technical supports to ensure that schools get adequate motivation for their participating students.
He added; “While STEM education may have been plagued by various challenges in the past, Interswitch SPAK is one great step towards ameliorating the situation, and it deserves the support and commendation of every stakeholder.
“One also hopes that other successful Nigerian tech companies will be inspired by this to create similar opportunities for the nation’s education system.”
According to research from Brookings – a Washington based research institution – By 2030, more than half of the jobs in the world will be STEM – Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics – based.