From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja

Wife of the Vice President, Mrs. Dolapo Osinbajo, at the weekend flagged of HerSTEM initiative to train 40 girls with disabilities for six months, in the first phase of the programme, advising them to grasped everything the Programme has to offer.

HerSTEM is an initiative of FAME Foundation set to teach women and girls between ages 10-30 with disabilities STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) courses.

The project which is in partnership with the Embassy of Switzerland, Nigeria and the Ministry of Science and Technology, aimed at harnessing Women and Girls with disabilities with STEM skills so as to make them compete with their counterparts in a society that is not favourable to women and girls with disabilities and to make them employable in a technology driven world.

Mrs. Osinbajo said: “The girls are going on a six months journey and I trust their lives will never be the same. This will not only have impact on their lives but on the environment they are coming from”, she said.

The wife of the VP she said it was interesting to note that the project is aimed at equipping those that would ordinarily not access such opportunities made possible by FAME.

Mrs. Osinbajo said: “I want to say a few words to the students, to ask them not to take this opportunity for granted, to tell them that doors of opportunities have been opened onto them and they have to keep pushing on as well, to keep pressing on just like Aderonke did, from an idea to something that is a reality, a reality that will impact many girls and their families and their communities and perhaps our nation.

“It is an idea that can birth many more ideas perhaps one of you will find a cure for cancer, perhaps one of you will find the answer to many questions that plague families, nations and healed the world.

“The doors have been opened unto you, technology is an incredible space indeed and makes life more easier for all of us and can continue to do. There’s still much more to be discovered.”

Minister of State for Science and Technology Mohammed Abdullahi, represented by Mrs Valerie Ehimatie, declared his support for the project and announced the donations of 15 desktop computers both from the Ministry and its agency, Raw Materials Research and Development Council.

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He said the ministry’s and its parastatals are behind the project because STEM courses are the foundational skills needed for the digital economy Nigeria is currently promoting.

The Charge d’ Affairs of Switzerland, Lukas Schifferli, said the embassy was supporting FAME foundation through STEM initiatives to provide technology skills for 40 girls and women with exceptional skills. He said mathematics is not only a tool but a solution.

While he said the embassy is proud to be association with the initiative, he urged the girls to engraved in their hearts Charlie Chaplin quote: “The best thing in life is to go ahead with all your plans and your dreams, to embrace life and to live everyday with passion, to lose and still keep the faith and to win while being grateful. All of this because the world belongs to those who dare to go after what they want. And because life is really too short to be insignificant.”

Wife of Kebbi State Governor, Aisha Bagudu, in her remarks, noted that the world has changed in general due to COVID and Nigeria has no choice but to embrace change.

She noted that during the lockdown most work and classes migrated online fully, with their staff working from home through computers.

Badugu said: “So this is a welcome development and we should make use of it to the best of our ability. The erroneous viewing of people with disabilities as beggars has to stop, the world has changed and we must change with it. In other developed countries People with disabilities don’t beg but work in offices, so by training these girls and women, it will impact on them positively and enable them compete with their other counterparts the world over.”

The convener of HerSTEM, Aderonke Ogunleye-Bello, said the initiative is for girls living with disabilities in Nigeria, giving the girls free STEM knowledge for 6 months, in collaboration with the Ministry of Science and Technology and Embassy of Switzerland in Nigeria.

“We are gathered here today to Flagoff HerSTEM, an initiative of FAME Foundation that is set to not only teach women and girls with disabilities STEM courses, but also promote inclusion and create opportunities for PWDs in STEM.

“Outlined courses amongst others are, App development, Web Designing, Computer Programming, Statistics, Data analysis, animation, video editing, mathematics, graphic designing, physical tour of Artifical Intelligence and Robotics laboratory run by NITDA.”