The Bayelsa State Government has said it is working on plans to make the teaching and learning of the Ijaw, French and Chinese languages as well as science and mathematics a priority in public schools in the state.

It stated that the essence of emphasising the teaching of the three languages, and the core science subjects, including mathematics, was to prepare and equip children to take full advantage of career opportunities in those subjects.

The Deputy Governor, Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, disclosed this during a courtesy visit by the state chapter of the Association of Professional Women Engineers of Nigeria in Government House in Yenagoa.

He explained in a statement issued by his Senior Special Assistant on Media, Mr Doubara Atasi, on Thursday, that the growing economic influence of China in global affairs as a major state actor in world trade and commerce, justified the inclusion of Chinese as a subject in the school curriculum.

While responding to issues raised by APWEN, Ewhrudjakpo said, “I am happy about the programme you are introducing. For us, we have made it compulsory; we are pursuing STEM because we believe that with that, the negative impression of Bayelsa State would change sooner or later.

“We will really be available for anything you want us to do from the government angle. As I told you earlier, in our teachers’ recruitment we deliberately laid emphasis on science, ICT and mathematics.

“We are recruiting more teachers in mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, agricultural science and computer science. The other subjects we are placing priority on are Chinese, French and Ijaw languages.”

He charged the members of APWEN to make teamwork their watchword to achieve their objectives as a professional body, and also include male students in their programmes.

Ewhrudjakpo pointed out that the engineering career requires a lot of hard work for one to be awarded a fellowship, urging the association to work together in closer synergy to gain more visibility in the male-dominated profession.

Earlier in their separate remarks, the state chairman of APWEN, Diepreye Owana-Omubo, and the vice-chairman, Ann Obuebite, said the association was doing everything to push its corporate social responsibility project aimed at introducing the girl-child to engineering at the basic education level.

The high point of the visit was the presentation of two special awards to the deputy governor by APWEN.