Nigeria local group talk for school students: Careers in statistics

On Monday 22 July 2019, the RSS Nigeria local group gave a career talk on statistics to secondary students at the methodist grammar school Bodija Ibadan. The meeting was held in collaboration with the Professional Statistical Soceity of Nigeria (PSSN).

The programme started about 11:10am with an opening prayer by school staff member, Mr SA Alao. Then the vice-principal of the school, Mr LA Onatunji,  welcomed the attendees and urged the students to pay rapt attention as it was a rare opportunity.

The first speaker, Professor Kayode Ayinde from the Department of Statistics at the Federal University of Technology in Akure, started his speech by telling the students his life story and how he eventually became a seasoned statistician. He defined statistics and related it to how it can be viewed as a subject and as a discipline. He emphasised the importance of statistics as a tool to collect data, process, analyse, disseminate it and make useful decisions; which can be communicated to the people through graphical representation. 

He mentioned the relationship of statistics to other fields such as mathematics (set theory), economics (econometrics), geography (spatial analysis), agriculture (experimental design) and the environment (environmental statistics), emphasising the aspects of statistics that are relevant.                                                                                                                         

The second speaker, Professor OI Shittu from the Department of Statistics at the University of Ibadan, dwelled shortly on the following topics:

  • Statistics and statisticians
  • What do statisticians do?
  • Career prospect for statisticians
  • How to become a statistician
  • Become a member of learned Society of Statistics

In response, the following were some of the salient questions from the students and which were answered immediately:  

  • Can statistics be studied only by youths or adults?
  • Is there any difference between statistics and economics? 
  • Can an arts student be a statistician?
  • Can a statistician solve problems on anything related to mental health issues? 
  • Between statistics and mechatronics, which one will be more useful in the next industrial revolution?

These career talks served as an eye opener for students who didn't know that statistics can be studied as a discipline in higher education.

The talk was graced by 152 students, 13 members of RSS and PSSN from different institutions including the Nigerian Institute of Science Laboratory Technology (NISLT); Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta; University of Ibadan and The Polytechnics Ibadan. An alumnus of the school, Dr Yaya, talked to the students advising them to strive hard to become the best in any career they desire - but if they 'choose statistics they will never regret it.'

Professor Shittu presented a gift of books to the school's principal, Mrs Olabisi Olaniran, for students to access in their school library. A vote of thanks was given by her and Okeniyi Michael (a final year student) before a closing prayer.

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