Boys do better than girls in Mathematics and Sciences not because they are more cerebral, but because girls lack encouragement, says a medical doctor, Afolabi Odunsi.
Odunsi, who was guest speaker at the prize-giving of a Mathematics competition organised by Ambassadors Schools, Ota, last Saturday, urged teachers to encourage girls to embrace Mathematics and the Sciences and take up careers in the fields.
Speaking on the topic: “Driving Social Change through Mathematics” at The Ultimate Mathematics Ambassadors (TUMA) Prize Giving programme held at the Ambassadors School hall, Odunsi said there was evidence-based research that girls have the cognitive ability to compete with boys in the Sciences.
Odunsi, an orthopaedic surgeon and the head of Orthopaedics, State Hospital, Ijaiye, Abeokuta, lamented that this gender inequality affected advancement of women in Sciences in the long run.
“I looked at the past winners of TUMA, only two were girls. Even among the top 10, there are only two girls. Science has found the girl-child as not inferior to the boy. All the girl-child needs is encouragement and opportunity.
“About 30 years ago, 70 per cent of medical graduates were men. But with encouragement, it is now about 50-50. There is an advancing knowledge of Mathematics for the girl-child but it is still capping off at a particular level. Today, we may have 50-50 ratio of male and female doctors but when it comes to specialisation, it is 70-30. Just about five per cent of spine surgeons in North America are females,” he said.
Odunsi urged teachers to encourage girls to embrace Mathematics by motivating them and providing incentives; while he called on organisers of TUMA to create a special category of prizes for the girl-child.
“For teachers who are here to improve their girls, create education projects; introduce female Maths role models; emphasise positives in careers in Mathematics. Tell them about special incentives,” he said.
He also spoke about professional fields where expertise in Mathematics is crucial, including: Robotics, Nanotechnology, Artificial Intelligence, Free Energy, Genetic Engineering, etc.
381 schools participated in the competition aimed at eliminating the phobia for Mathematics among primary school pupils. The top 50 participants, their teachers and schools were rewarded with cash and gift prizes which the chairman of the school, Mr Samson Osewa, said was worth over N15 million.
Nine-year-old Aruna Fuhad Omogoriola of Giant Stride Nursery and Primary School, Ota, won the grand prize of N500,000. He scored 82 per cent from the three stages of the competition which featured written and oral speed examinations. His teacher, Mr. Issa Moses, got N150,000, while the school got a laptop, printer and plaque. In second place was Modupeoluwa Matthew Ojo, a pupil of the Universtiy of Lagos Women Society Nursery and Primary School; while in third place was Oghenetejiri Esemetodje of Mind Builders School, Ikeja. Modupeoluwa got N300,000 (N100,000 for his teacher); while Oghenetejiri got N200,000 (N75,000 for his teacher). Their schools also got printers, plaques and textbooks.
The fourth to 10th placed winners got N50,000 (N25,000 for their teachers); while others in the top 40 got N40,000 each.
Mr. Osewa said Ambassadors School aims to demystify Mathematics among its pupils and encourage excellence. He said pupils from the school excelled in competitions and examinations at national and international level. He advised other schools to participate regularly in competitions as they provide a platform for improvement.
“Last year, we had 15 of our students who got full scholarship to U.S. universities. The year before, we had 12. Why do they do so well? It is because they are exposed to competitions. That is why in this school, we do all competitions to win prizes. I want to encourage proprietors here to allow their pupils go for competitions. You may not do well at first but over time, you begin to improve. The first time we participated in Cowbell Mathematics Competition, we were number 300 out of 700 in Ogun State. Three years later in 2016, we cleared all six prizes in the junior and senior categories,” he said.
Chairman on the occasion Kola Dopamu urged parents to make Materials available for their wards to increase their interest in the subject.