Foundation, Firm Boost Students’ Interest in STEM

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Funmi Ogundare

As part of efforts to encourage students to understand and embrace technology, as well as ignite passion that can grow into an exciting career in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), the Airbus Foundation, in partnership with STEM METS Resources recently held a workshop for 30 students of Methodist Girls High School, Lagos.

The workshop tagged, ‘The Airbus Little Engineer’, saw them focusing on identifying various aircraft parts and enhancing understanding of the manufacturing and assembling processes of the world’s largest passenger aircraft.

Speaking at the programme, the founder of STEM METS Resources, Mrs. Jadesola Adedeji expressed delight about the partnership with the foundation, saying that the programme was a unique learning opportunity.

She said since its launch in 2012, series of workshops have been held and more than 1,000 students across the country have been trained. “These workshops are designed to channel students’ potential, encouraging them to use STEM in an exciting and engaging team work approach.”

She described the move as an achievement for her, saying, “we want nothing more than for the children in Nigeria to have access to innovative and alternative means of learning and also creating an environment where STEM education will be embraced and enhanced in our society.”

Adedeji said the workshop was not just about administering a STEM programme, but to inspire the girls beyond what they see and look beyond the options of hair dressing and manicure or dress making being presented to them, adding that they should dare to dream.

“We see this workshop as an inspirational tool. We have found out from our experience that public schools can’t afford the after school programmes, so workshops like this go a long way. We are also hoping to partner other organisations to go into these schools to administer some of our programmes in subsidised amount. We are looking for funding that will make us to focus on girls. From our experience, the girls’ outcomes and participation are better than the boys.”

She said sustaining the programme, human capital and having good and dedicated facilitators to administer it in schools are usually a challenge, adding that it is all about quality and not compromising the integrity of the curriculum.

“Our job really is to go seeking knowing fully well that we can’t carry all the millions of Nigerian youths and children which will outweigh us, but we can bring the programmes in.

“Some of the schools that we have been to have asked us how can we continue the programme in terms of online access? We realised that some of the schools that we have been to lack internet accessibility, so that sums up the frustrations and challenges that we face. There was no electricity and no electrical points in the classes, so we had to hire a generator. These taught us adaptability and thinking outside the box. We did end up having the workshop there to ensure that the programme is delivered.”

The Executive Director of the Airbus Foundation, Andrea Debbane described the training of 1,000 students over a short period of time as an achievement, while thanking STEM METS for its dedication and efforts.

“Investment in education and training are essential in building an educated and skilled workforce. It is a complete platform and supporting them with additional tools to practice and learn using technology. The goal of the Airbus youth development programme is to support the countries’ efforts in creating a sustainable pipeline of talent for Africa.”