Our STEAM Program is poised to form partnerships with rural, regional leaders and schools in Ghana, West Africa, to introduce STEAM fundamentals to rural Ghana students, from elementary to college level. Our goal is to empower the underserved, underprivileged, and technologically impoverished students through STEAM education with the hope of training them to fill the void of technology opportunities around the world.
When EBI decided to create our STEAM Program, we were cautious not to select just anyone but to reach the traditionally unreachable: Those for whom it is beyond their reach to have hands-on experience with the technological gadget. EBI has partnered with a school in Betenase. Betenase is one of the areas in Sekyedomase, which is a rural farming community. Sekyedomase is the second capital of the Ejura/Sekyedomase Municipality in the Ashanti Region.
In a study of out-of-school children in Ghana with UNICEF, Brendan J. Rigby concluded, “Many rural schools are without electricity or the necessary resources to adequately teach ICT, and enable students to effectively learn [this] as a subject,” he tweeted. “There are far more pressing issues within [Ghana’s education] system — equity, literacy, numeracy, inclusion, and achievement.”
Over the next decade, STEAM job openings requiring STEAM literacy are expected to increase by the thousands. STEAM education is a critical key to Africa’s future, and governments and organizations are doing what they can.
The African Union’s Agenda 2063 is a long-term framework intended to transform the African continent over 50 years. The agenda aspires that, by 2063, Africa shall be a continent where “well educated and skilled citizens, underpinned by science, technology, and innovation for a knowledgeable society is the norm and no child misses school due to poverty…”
In order to ensure the bright STEM future for Africa envisioned by the African Union’s Agenda 2063, governments and organizations must step up and take action. However, improving the state of STEAM in Africa is a highly complex and challenging task requiring collaboration and effort across many sectors. STEM programs and initiatives supporting STEAM skills still have a long way to go.
Governments in Africa need to fully embrace STEAM as a key point of focus and invest in educational resources. By producing highly qualified graduates, Africa can use its growing population of young people to improve economic development and leadership in its countries
Additionally, governments must incentivize highly qualified professionals to stay and thrive in their home countries. The Revised Migration Policy Framework for Africa Plan of Action for 2018-2027suggests African countries increase opportunities for local employment and professional development. It suggests encouraging nationals to contribute to their country of origin “through financial and human capital transfers, such as short and long term return migration [and] the transfer of skills, knowledge, and technology, [plus] maximize the contribution of skilled professionals to the continent by facilitating regional and continental mobility.”
STEAM-related organizations and education in Africa and African schools should have African leadership, not just international leadership, and empower Africans to become involved in order to ensure that projects are sustainable for African nations long-term.
Finally, societal attitudes towards education in Africa and beyond must be revitalized. David Dodge, CEO of Codakid, says that “quality coding and STEAM skill options are not available in many towns, cities, and even countries. This means that STEAM jobs aren’t being filled as well. Many parents and educators see the need, and want to do something about it.” Indeed, local businesses, communities, and families must work together to take charge of their youths’ education. Since many of Africa’s students are the first generation in their families to become formally educated, parents and communities may be unfamiliar with STEAM skills and subjects and uninvolved in education. Therefore, it’s important for families to motivate students to value learning, and for communities to create and encourage involvement in STEAM programs such as coding for kids to expand education beyond schools.
Improving STEAM education in Africa and resources in African schools will require the collaborative work of governments, organizations, communities, businesses, and individuals. Additionally, it will lead to more successful STEAM job acquisition in the future. Although it currently falls behind other regions in STEM, Africa’s demographic makeup and untapped potential give it an advantage moving forward. Africa is in a prime position to educate a new highly skilled workforce (particularly with STEAM skills), grow its economy and compete with some of the world’s biggest players.