Sparking youth interest in careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics
There is a need for innovative solutions to sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest challenges, but only 4-12% of students graduate with STEM-related degrees.
For this reason, JA Africa invests in young people in order to reverse the low interest and participation in careers in the STEM fields. The objectives of our investment are to:
- Improve perceptions and interest in pursuing STEM education and related careers
- Increase knowledge of STEM Disciplines: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, and their interconnectivity through everyday applications
- Improve students’ ability to apply innovative learning methods, e.g. creative problem solving
- Increase knowledge and ability to acquire and apply transferable professional and personal skills, e.g. time management and public speaking
JA Africa has created a curriculum called SySTEM. SySTEM is a 12-week program born out of the demand for STEM related career development aimed at raising awareness and interest of STEM career opportunities.
Through workshops, hands-on activities, and field trips, students are challenged to think like STEM professionals and brainstorm how STEM can make a difference in people’s lives
The program is comprised of six stages divided into 11 sessions and one field trip. The curriculum includes a Participant’s Manual and Facilitator’s Manual. It also includes a resource repository with supplementary case studies and additional science activities to tailor content based on region.
Each of the 6 Stages use the following general structure, tied together by case studies and an overarching narrative with relatable characters learning STEM:
Instruction: Session introduction, topic overview, and initial perceptions
Activity: Hands-on activity designed to teach creative problem solving and innovation
Discussion: A review of lessons learned, transferrable skills, and career opportunities
SySTEM also includes a field trip to demonstrate a real local example of STEM solutions, help students identify additional job opportunities, and learn the value of networking.
The target audience is youth between the ages of 10-15.Pre-program and post program assessments for participants are included in the curriculum and used to allow facilitators to gauge success of initiative.