About 20,000 Junior High School pupils drawn from the Greater Accra and Ashanti Regions are to receive training in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) under the Ghana Science and Tech Explorer Prize (GSTEP) programme.
The GSTEP is a three-year programme to present an opportunity to support 20,000 JHS students aged between 11 and 16 years, and 500 teachers to develop practical STEM skills and products that benefit local communities.
The GSTEP programme which is an initiative by the DreamOval Foundation and the Ministry of Education also seeks to achieve the goal of impacting the lives of the beneficiary young people to maximize their socio-economic development, prospects, and opportunities for the future.
The DreamOval Foundation and the Ministry of Education have therefore signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the takeoff of the programme, which comprises a series of challenge prize competitions, where students would be encouraged to develop new business ideas in teams, with support from schools and teachers.
The MOU was signed by Mr Divine Ayidzoe, Acting Chief Director of the Ministry of Education, and Ms Matilda Awiah Azuimah, Legal Head, Ministry of Education on behalf of the ministry, and Mr Claud Hutchful, Chief Executive Officer of DreamOval Limited, and Mr Charles Hansen-Quao, Vice President, DreamOval Limited.
It also seeks to achieve the aim of strengthening their interest in STEM and ICT subjects, as well as supporting the development of key entrepreneurial and enterprising skills such as critical thinking and presentation skills.
The competition is to take a stage-gated approach, where an initial cohort of finalist teams would go on to receive mentoring and support, while in the final round, cash prizes would be awarded to the winning teams’ schools
Meanwhile, Dr Yaw Adutwum, Minister of Education, said during the MOU signing that STEM had been prioritized under the ministry’s reform education policy, and in partnership with the private sector such as DreamOval Foundation, would help unleash talents to develop the youth and move Ghana in the right direction.
Dr Adutwum said Africa was seeing a boom in the ICT space, with Ghana acting as a leading hub in the digital Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) sector, in particular, adding that as these industries grow, there would be a strong demand for professionals who could blend digital and STEM skills with traditional subject expertise.
He said there was also a need for stronger business and entrepreneurial skills; as the World Economic Forum highlights, harnessing the full benefits of ICT intensive jobs would require equipping Africans with the skills to design and engineer home-grown solutions rather than simply servicing the lower-skilled delivery end of the global digital market.
Many young Ghanaians, he said we’re leaving education without the necessary skills for performing the most in-demand jobs in the new economy, adding that at the current rate, there would be a major skills gap in the labour force with more low-skilled workers than low-skilled jobs and fewer medium to high-skilled workers than needed by employers.
“Digital employment has the unique capacity to employ individuals who face barriers to employment such as poverty, gender, inexperience, low educational attainment in traditional curriculums, or lack of employment opportunities available.
Therefore, a digitally skilled workforce can help grow Ghana’s competitiveness on the world stage,” he said.
He noted that the GSTEP with the support of the Ministry of Education aimed at placing a strong focus on harnessing technology for social good and encouraging participating pupils to see themselves as leaders and change-makers in their local communities.