Why this group wants Nigerian girls to learn space science

A group Women in Aerospace Nigeria (WIAN) has advocated the inclusion of space education into schools’ curriculum to raise awareness on space science and technology in the country.

The group made the call on Friday in Abuja when they paid a courtesy visit to Dr Halilu Shaba, the Director-General of the National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA).

According to the News Agency of Nigeria, the visit was to intimate Shaba of the activities of WIAN and join the rest of women globally to mark the World Space Week.

World Space Week, celebrated every 4-10 October, was established by the resolution of the United Nations General Assembly in December 1999.

The week is set aside to celebrate the contributions of space science and technology to the development of human conditions and for sustainable development.

World Space Week for 2021 is themed: ‘Women in Space’.

Mrs Chidimma Iroka, the Secretary of WIAN, said they had been engaging in visiting schools to educate the girl child on the importance of space to human lives.

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Iroka said the curriculum was designed to expose the girl child to activities in space, where they would get hands-on practical on flying objects into the air and develop space codes.

She said, “We just developed the curriculum, though it has not been accepted by the education system in Nigeria. But we are already using it because the curriculum has to do with astronomy.

“We don’t have astronomy in schools, now we have it in the curriculum, so people need to know what stars, moon are for in space education and we educate them to know weather forecast.

“The curriculum we developed is not only for secondary schools. We started from primary. The initiative is ‘Catch them young’, so we started from primary schools.

“We bring them to the space agency, educate them on what space is like, take them on a tour and allow them to do it themselves.

“In the curriculum we have now, girls between the ages of 6 and 8 do it themselves. They can cut papers to make some objects, those between 12 to 16 can write codes that can be used to fly objects in space”.

She acknowledged that coding is an area girls got scared of getting into, but with the curriculum, it had been simplified, hence they could read and write codes for use in space.

Mrs Florence Ibrahim, the Nodal Coordinator, Nigeria Communications Satellite Limited (NIGCOMSAT), said the organisation was passionate about the girl child’s exposure to space science and technology.

“We are working to ensure that the girl child picks interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) for her to have a career path in space”, she said.

Dr Rakiya Babamaaji, the Assistant Director, Space Application, NASRDA, said WIAN hoped to get the first Nigerian woman into space, adding that they had a roadmap that involved going to space.

Mrs Kaneng Dagyeng, Media Coordinator for WIAN, said that the group would be engaging the soon-to-be-launched Space TV to propagate their activities for more awareness.

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