No fewer than 500 students from 30 secondary schools in Kwara State, on Thursday, 17 November, 2022, converged on the Banquet Hall, Ilorin, for the maiden Kwara STEAM Funfest, organised by a non-governmental organisation (NGO), Webfala Digital Skills for all Initiative (WDSFAI).
Themed ‘Igniting Children’s Passion in STEAM’, the programme was aimed at inspiring children’s love for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) and expose teachers and parents to the possibilities and opportunities in the fields.
In her remarks, the Executive Director of WDSFAI, Nafisat Bakare explained that “STEAM builds upon the concept of STEM by emphasizing the integral role of ‘Arts’ and creativity in the learning process. In recent years, the concept of STEAM has gained popularity in the world of education.
“Specifically, STEAM provides value by exposing young-adults to Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics. When the Arts are infused into STEM, you create the platform for children to engage critically, creatively and confidently in their learning.”
Speaking further, Bakare stated that STEAM education extends beyond teaching kids concepts in Science and Mathematics as it focuses on hands-on learning with real world applications that helps children develop a variety of 21st century skill sets including creativity, innovation, media literacy, critical thinking and problem solving skills, social and communication skills, among others.
“Irrespective of the future career path taken by the students, these skills will prepare them to be innovative and become active players in the economy. We all know that technological advancement and innovation are critical components of economic growth and development,” she added.
She, however, lamented that despite the critical importance of STEAM to sustained economic growth and development, Nigeria still ranks among nations with little investment in STEAM education.
“For Nigeria to favourably compete in this digital and knowledge-driven global economy, we must prioritise STEAM education and careers for young Nigerians. This is why we are appealing to the government at all levels to make more investments in STEAM education. We must adequately integrate STEAM education into our curriculum.
“It is clear that most jobs of the future will require at least a basic understanding of STEAM. This is why it is important for school students to have a solid knowledge base in STEAM.”
While delivering his keynote address, the Director General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Mr Inuwa Abdullahi described STEAM as a global necessity, adding that many lucrative jobs at home and abroad required STEAM education.
Abdullahi, who was represented by the Agency’s Director of Standards, Guidelines and Framework, Mr Oladejo Olawunmi, encouraged the students to be curious, have passion for learning and acquire digital literacy skills that will enable them create their own future and compete globally in this digital age.
He added that NITDA is excited to be part of this year’s STEAMFEST and looks forward to more of such educative digital literacy programmes for young Nigerians in the Tech space.
“The Kwara STEAM Funfest keys into one of NITDA’s strategic pillars; Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship, which seeks to engage youths to come up with innovative solutions to indigenous challenges through organizing hackathons, innovation challenges and conducting research to turn ideas into products and services,” he said.
In her lecture, the Head, National Library of Nigeria, Kwara State Branch, Mrs Kafayat Olabimpe Olani, tasked the students to be motivated to learn new skills, urging them to make use of the numerous materials available at the library, both physical and virtual.
Other speakers who spoke at the event are Tracy Tang from the Scratch Foundation, USA, Mr Muniru Idris who is Senior Data Scientist and Lecturer of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Ilorin, the Chief Sustainability Officer at Opolo Global Innovation, Mr. Deji Ajani, Miss Memunat Manzuma, a Tech Evangelist and ex-Mentor, Sub Sahara Africa Women Tech Maker, and a Product Designer, Mr Fabusuyi Oluwatobi.