Our STEAM Program is poised to form partnerships with rural, regional leaders and schools in Africa and the United States, to introduce STEAM fundamentals to students from elementary to college level. Our mission for our S.T.E.A.M. Exchange program is to empower the underserved, underprivileged, and technologically impoverished students in the United States and Africa through STEAM education with the hope of training them to fill the void of technology opportunities in their community.
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.
EBI’s STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) Exchange program is committed to implementing STEAM education opportunities in underserved communities. The program currently serves students in both the United States and Africa by providing the infrastructure, technological equipment, curriculum, and hands-on learning opportunities. Our organization currently works with two groups of students – one in Baltimore, MD and one in Kumasi, Ghana, though we are hoping to expand to serve even more communities. Expanding Boundaries International is particularly interested in increasing the number of female students in the STEAM fields, as females are notoriously underrepresented in occupations relating to these fields.
EBI’s STEAM Exchange also focuses on collaboration and cross-cultural literacy. Our U.S. students will work in tandem with our Ghana students — they will collaborate in a learning environment to tackle environmental and community-based issues. Our STEAM Exchange will be virtual in its initial phases due to current health and safety concerns. However, in 2022 we aim to host an in-person STEAM Exchange Camp formally introducing our Baltimore, MD, and Ghana students. We recently launched a STEAM education center in Kumasi, Ghana, and aspire to open two more centers in Ghana by the end of 2021.
Some the Limitations:
Unfortunately, several barriers restrict female and poverty-stricken students from access to quality STEAM opportunities. These barriers prevent our marginalized students from reaching their full potential. Studies report that less than 20% of late primary students in Sub-Saharan Africa score at or above a minimum proficiency level in standardized math and science testing. By comparison, students in Europe and North America scored around 80%. 1/5th of the world’s youth population lives in Africa – yet, less than 25% of African students in higher education pursue STEAM fields. Africa’s STEAM graduation rates are only at 8%. Moreover, only 30% of those African students pursuing higher education in STEAM fields are female.
The most significant barrier our inner-city Baltimore and rural Ghanan students face is poverty. Many of our students live in destitute and dangerous environments, which restricts their access to technology and cross-cultural experiences. The schools in rural Ghana lack STEAM educators and technology in addition to electricity and running water. STEAM education is provided in many Ghana regions, but only to the few who can afford it. As a result, most students are never exposed to a STEAM-based education, so they fail to develop the foundation necessary for future academic study and professional pursuits.
Expanding Boundaries International removes these barriers by providing our students the resources, technology, and instructors to help them develop a solid foundation in STEAM. We work directly with communities and community organizations in Ghana’s rural areas and Baltimore’s inner cities to ensure our students have access to safe and fully-equipped technology centers where they can learn.