University STEM Outreach
National STEM hands-on mentoring through already-available resources
Surprisingly, there is a STEM enrichment resource already available throughout Ethiopia and other friendly subSaharan African countries. These nations have universities located near their largest cities. Some of those universities are equipped with laboratories, or at least the university has a desire to convert a building into laboratories.
In the case of Ethiopia, all thirty-one universities now have labs. STEM Synergy has helped to utilize those labs during the normally-idle times of the year, especially the “summer” semester break. We call that novel educational endeavor the “University STEM Outreach” program.
In most locations, students are configured into two groups, Grades 8-9 and Grades 10-11. The students must take grade-appropriate exams, and achieve good scores, in order to qualify for entry into this program.
At their local host university for approximately two months during the summer break, the attending STEM Outreach high school students are mentored and instructed by the university’s professors and volunteer college students. The host university also provides these high school students with meals and housing (seasonably-empty dormitories.)
The University STEM Outreach program began in 2012, with pilot programs operating at Bahir Dar University and Aksum University. The feedback from all involved was so outstanding that, within two years, every Ethiopian university was operating its University STEM Outreach program. Each year, nearly 10,000 secondary school students are enrolled in this program.
The Ethiopian government now provides all of the funding for the University STEM Outreach annual program, through the budgets and supervision by the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Science and Technology. The STEM Synergy role now is mainly advisory, to insure the programs are running well at all universities.
That’s not an easy task. In the Southern Peoples, Nations, and Nationalities Region (SNNPR) state, the attending students speak 25 different languages and have nearly as many different food tastes!
NOTE : The initial funding of the University STEM Outreach program was provided by the Gelfand Family Charitable Trust, which preceded STEM Synergy. As the program expanded to all universities across Ethiopia, the universities (and Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Science and Technology) began to absorb most of the program costs, to the point where all funding has been absorbed by the Ethiopian government and its universities. STEM Synergy’s role has mainly been to monitor the Outreach program at the many universities.