Giving a brief history of STEAM Empowerment Foundation, the CEO said that the company took off in 2011, selling educational materials and science kits. According to her, as a major dealer in Thames and Cosmos products, after a review of the products and its impact on the users (children), she realised the need to domesticate the idea so that Nigerian children can benefit better from the concept.
She said: “Thames and Cosmos have been in Germany for over a 100 years producing science kits and toys. When the product came, we saw the technology behind that it is not the type Nigerian children are familiar with, and won’t be very useful to them. The interest of the Nigerian child spurred her team into coming up with the STEAM Empowerment Foundation in 2014.
“So, we said, since we have these kits, can we sit down and look at the concept behind them and be able to communicate it to our children. And that was what gave birth to the STEAM club. Thames and Cosmos have products like hydro pack, solar park, electrochem – all these are modern technologies and were already in kits forms and we were convinced that if we give them to our Nigerian children, they won’t relate with it.
“So, we said to ourselves instead of bringing in these products for our children to just play with them as toys and nothing at the end of the day is impacted to them, let’s we sit down and understand the concept and impact these children. That is how the whole concept came about.”
Noting that the foundation has achieved some remarkable feats, the CEO noted that funding has been a major challenge to STEAM education in Nigeria. According to her going by the number of people that can afford STEAM education, it would need sponsorship or donors partnership with SEF to enable more students to participate.
She said, “STEAM education is expensive and we have decided to see how we can get donor grants to invest into this so that every child irrespective of his parents pedigree are able to access it. And that was why we came about the SEF. We are equally trying to reach out to cooperate organisations and individuals that can invest into the whole process.”
Speaking further, the CEO said that the award-winning STEAM club was founded in 2014 and incorporated in 2017 with the aim of building and impacting children in the African market space, with concepts of STEAM using informal methods to ignite a passion for STEAM from a tender age. The experience she said is also capable of stimulating creativity in children of all ages and can enable them achieve good results in life.
“SEF is currently operational through The STEAM Club, an after-school club in about 50 schools in Lagos and Abuja, respectively, where we are training over a 1000 children who are taught from a robust curriculum developed by our specially trained team.
“The whole of essence of STEAM club is that some day, our children will become manufacturers. You know that in practical terms, every household in Asia are producing one thing or the other. And that is really what we want to achieve, because arts and craft is an aspect of what we we do. We can come into the science aspect, there are several other things we can do. We have something like powered lamp, reading lamp, things like vibrobrush, blender, egg mixer and many more.”
Speaking also, the Programme Officer, Olusegun Olojede said the response from schools as well as the children has been encouraging. “The children are always eager to join and attend our classes because one of the things that excites them is that they get to take home whatever they made during the class. Like some of these crafts here, every child that attended had the chance of taking one home.
“The interesting thing is that these children are even the ones marketing STEAM club to their parents and even to school owners. We have been getting calls from school owners who became interested in having TEAM club established in their schools after seeing what these children have been able to learn and do through the club. One of the schools we work with came first in an inventor’s competition they attended using our concept a taught them.
Head of Operations Unit, Mrs. Itunu Garuba, said “The testimonials and feedback we get from schools are exciting and that is one of the reasons why we said, we can’t keep quiet with this wonderful concept that is transforming the lives of Nigerian children. We want more parents and children to be aware of our activities and get involved.
“We want to create awareness for what we do, we want the world to know that children in Nigeria can compete with their contemporaries globally. Part of the things we do is that we organise summer camps and Easter camps, we do weekend training, workshops and seminars for children.”