“Awareness is the enemy of sanity, for once you hear the screaming, it never stops”- Emilie Autumn
In recent time, the level of ignorance about various subject matter is on an increase. The Perils of Perception study conducted by IPsos MORI in 2017 revealed that a large number of people in some of the world’s richest nations are ignorant about important topics. Out of the 29,133 people around the world who were assessed, majority were ignorant about happenings around them. The same also applies to the nuclear sector where a higher degree of ignorance prevails. The urgent need of the hour is to create awareness for youths while guiding them to harness opportunities in the nuclear industry.
DEFINITION OF TERMS
Awareness is the state of being conscious of something or a state wherein a subject is aware of some information when that information is directly available to bring to bear in the direction of a wide range of behavioural actions.
Youth is the time of life when one is young, and often means the time between childhood and adulthood (maturity).
According to the National geographic encyclopaedia, nuclear energy is the energy in the nucleus, or core of an atom that can be used to create electricity, but it must first be released from the atom.
BRIEF CASE STUDY
At a tender age while in primary school, I noticed that my teachers never created an in-depth awareness of nuclear energy to me. This is not unconnected with the obsolete nature of the curriculum currently in use and ignorance of the subject matter among educators. Since pupils are starved of this knowledge, many in my school aspired to be doctors, engineers, lawyers, nurses and other popular careers they were conversant with. It’s been 15 years, but after taking a survey from these group of young Nigerians, I noticed that many who pursued their dream careers are currently wallowing in the pool of unemployment. With the current crisis caused by the covid-19 and the unemployment rate in Nigeria standing at 33.3%, many of my colleagues would have been gainfully employed in the nuclear industry if our tutors had gone an extra mile to create awareness and stimulate interest in us to pursue a career in the field. Presently, I teach mathematics at a local primary school in my locality in-spite of my training as an agriculturist. This switch is a pointer to the fact that youths from other disciplines too can thrive if awareness is made for them to tap into opportunities in the nuclear sector. After getting the essay topics for this year, I determined not to take after the negligence of my past teachers who out of sheer ignorance, failed to educate me about the nuclear industry. Data were collected from my students to know if they had knowledge of nuclear energy. Here are some of the responses I received.
Student 1- said, “nuclear energy is a form of energy that is small”.
Student 2- said, “She saw the phrase “nuclear energy” in a literature text but had never been taught about it by her teachers”.
Student 3- said, “She heard about it casually through eaves drop from conversing adults”.
Majority of the students misplaced the concept of nuclear energy with nuclear family
About nine of my students had a crude knowledge of nuclear energy while 22 were ignorant.
At this point, I educated my pupils about the “nuclear industry” and intimated them about opportunities available to them. Together, we traced possible career routes since schools majoring in nuclear energy were not common in Nigeria. By the end of the awareness program, about 26% of the participants expressed interest in venturing into the nuclear sector. Thanks to the awareness campaign.
With practical experiences from the case study examined, it is safe to say there is a high level of ignorance about opportunities that exist in the nuclear sector. Myths, rumours and ignorance of a subject often leads to misunderstanding of which nuclear power is not exempted.
Despite the misunderstandings and ignorance, that surrounds the nuclear sector, increasing awareness for youths about opportunities in the industry can go a long way to burst the myths surrounding it. According to Raquel Heredia, a sustainable development engineer at TEC de Monterrey, nuclear plants generate energy at a low cost and can provide jobs for 100 years. For an unemployed agriculturist like me, this presents me and my unemployed peers around the world opportunity to embark on occupational migration. Following in the footsteps of WINMX, a non-profit organisation that publicizes the benefits of nuclear energy is an effective way to create worldwide awareness among the youths.
PROPOSAL AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Gleans from the case study examined reveals that there is a high level of ignorance among Nigerian youths about opportunities in the nuclear sector. With many of them currently unemployed, stakeholders and policy makers should create bridge courses that will facilitate the migration of unemployed youths from other disciplines to the nuclear field. Such a project will help in reducing the unemployment rate and create a multi- disciplinary think-tank capable of proffering creative solutions to present and future challenges in the nuclear energy sector.
Secondly, the education sector should be encouraged to integrate nuclear energy courses into the school curriculum. This will help in charting a career path through which youths can follow to spark a revival in the nuclear industry.
“When I look back, I am so impressed again with the life giving power of literature. If I were a young person today trying to gain a sense of myself in the world, I would do that again by reading, just as I did when I was young ”-Maya Angelon. Findings from the case study revealed that one of the sampled respondent got awareness about the nuclear industry from literature. Stakeholders, educationists and creative writers tasked with the responsibility of creating literary works should endeavour to discuss matters related with the nuclear sector. Youth storybooks, novels and poems woven around the subject matter can arouse an army of nuclear professionals in the future.
According to GSMA real-time intelligence data, 5.27 billion people have a mobile device in the world. This means that about 67.03% of the world’s population has a mobile device. Statista predicts that by 2023, the number of mobile device users will increase to 7.33 billion. Leveraging upon the use of digital technology can help in creating wide spread awareness. This can be done using social media platforms like Facebook and twitter. Software engineers should be encouraged to create applications like games and nuclear power encyclopaedias capable of intimating youths about the nuclear industry.
Furthermore, a recent study by the University of Arkansas in collaboration with the Manchester business school in London found that consumers (ages 18-24) take on an active role in developing their identities and appearances based upon celebrities. Since celebrity endorsements resonate more strongly with generation Z (ages 15-20) and millennial (ages 21-34) audiences, leveraging upon the use of global icons from the music, sport and entertainment industry can help in stimulating interest among youths and widen the scope of the nuclear industry.
Nuclear energy clubs, mock laboratories and societies should be created in every school around the world. Embarking on such laudable feats can draw the nuclear industry closer to the common person and raise worthy ambassadors.
In addition, the organisation of public awareness campaigns should not be relegated to the background. This could be in form of conferences, workshops, film exhibitions or nuclear festivals where teachers can be enlightened to teach others. Doing this will reduce ignorance about opportunities in the nuclear sector.
Finally, the language through which vital information regarding the nuclear sector is communicated should not be neglected if headway is to be made. In Africa, youths are more open to accept and adopt innovations when such information are passed on through local dialects. If an awareness campaign were to be organized in my community for instance, the word “egbe” (English translation for gun in Idoma language) as an awareness theme will attract more youths than the phrase “nuclear energy.” Therefore, nuclear energy campaigners should adopt the use of local dialect when passing vital information pertaining the nuclear industry to the public.
“The youths of a Nation are the trustees of posterity” according to Benjamin Disraeli. Efforts should be made to adopt the recommendations highlighted in this research paper in order to increase awareness about fallow opportunities lying waste in the nuclear industry.
Chalmers, David (1997). The conscious Mind: In search of a Fundamental Theory. Oxford: Oxford University press .pp. 225 ISBN 978-0195105537
Macmillan Dictionary Publishers Limited. Retrieved 2021-07-12