SEATTLE, Washington — The importance of science and technology has grown over the years due to its crucial role in encouraging a nation’s economic growth and development. Furthermore, technological innovation is largely driven by a galvanized younger generation. It is not a surprise, therefore, that the youths in Africa are driving Africa’s newfound science and technology industries.
Africa has a young population. The continent is home to more than 60% of people under the age of 25, signaling a future workforce boom. Projections show that by 2035, the working population of sub-Saharan Africa will surpass that of the rest of the world.
The implications of this demographic advantage are far-reaching. While the rest of the world will contend with an aging workforce, Africa’s will be young. Thus the region has great potential to improve its national and global economies if it can produce a generation of young, creative, motivated professionals. Many of these professionals would likely find jobs in the STEM field, boosting Africa’s already growing technological prowess and subsequently furthering the continent’s development.
Empowering the Youth
Much of this visionary success comes from the youths in Africa having a willingness to engage in STEM education. The promotion of STEM is important for encouraging a versatile skill set that is essential for students worldwide.
GoLab Goes Africa is an initiative aiming to improve the learning outcomes of STEM education by creating enriching educational environments via digital content, such as virtual labs and experiments. The initiative encourages young people to engage in science, acquire scientific inquiry skills and actively undertake guided experimentation. It also provides both teachers and students greater access to a variety of labs and learning spaces.
The initiative is empowering both youths in Africa and teachers alike. It allows them to acquire specific competencies needed to break into the STEM world and perform professional scientific research.
Social, Political and Infrastructural Development
A workforce with the necessary innovative, collaborative and critical thinking skills is necessary for every nation in order to reach sustainable development goals. Africa’s long-term development challenges include the necessity to improve agriculture, manage contagious and deadly diseases and promote economic development.
To achieve these aims, it is necessary to improve the quality of STEM education. A first step launched by the UN in September 2012—the Global Education First Initiative (GEFI)—increases the political profile of education to improve access to and quality of learning. The initiative aims to make the quality and practicality of education a top priority. The UN has funded this initiative through global advocacy efforts.
By 2030, GEFI hopes to accomplish a broader and more ambitious vision for education. They also hope to expand the engagement of global citizenship education, placing an emphasis on sustainable development, learning and teaching.
Kenya’s Vision 2030 holds GEFI at the heart of this plan. Vision 2030 aims to turn Kenya into a middle-income country with a high quality of life and a clean, secure environment. Under Vision 2030, suppliers have taken up programs to equip 94 public healthcare facilities countrywide with modern diagnostic equipment. A National Referral Strategy has been developed and implemented, with more successful ventures contributing as well.
The first step to achieving these successes was the educational foundation of the Kenyan people. Their commitment to learning how to use STEM education in a sustainable way is what is pushing them to ensure the further development of their nation.
Looking to the Future
African nations are improving their social, economic and political agendas. Simultaneously, youths in Africa are rising up to learn how exactly they can contribute to their communities and further development.
Successful implementation of STEM education to improve key socioeconomic, health and accessibility issues depends greatly on various education and economic policies. Untapping African countries’ great potentials within their younger population is the key to the sustainable growth of the world for years to come.
– Sarah Uddin