May 14, 2022
With the Ghana Science & Tech Explorer Prize (GSTEP) Challenge approaching, DreamOval Foundation is putting in place plans to make the challenge a success. The key funding organization for the GSTEP program, Fondation Botnar, visited the DreamOval Foundation on the 13th of May, 2022, to talk about the progress after the end of Year 1 and the start of Year 2. Fondation Botnar is a Swiss-based organization that champions the potential of AI and digital technology to improve the well-being of young people in growing cities around the world. Mr. Zur Oren, the partnership coordinator from Fondation Botnar, was taken through a presentation, led by Mr. Francis Ahene-Affoh, the Project Consultant of the DreamOval Foundation. Also present were Mrs. Keren Beechem and Mina Asabea.
The first part of the presentation touched on how the foundation began and the programs they have organized successfully since its inception. Some of these programs are Africa Code Week, FemITI, and DOTTS, among others. Francis adverted to the GSTEP program and how the first year of the three-year program and the various activities held have performed so far. Mr. Ahene-Affoh explained that the first year was mainly for research and scoping the challenge. There have been roundtable discussions and team meetings with the various partners on board as well as the meeting with the Ministry of Education and the Ghana Education Service. The brainstorming sessions helped the foundation to strategize well to plan well for the implementation period which is Year 2 of the program.
The first year of the three-year program saw back-to-back and constant communication with the local partners in Ghana such as Fidelity Bank, Stanbic bank Multimedia, and Graphic Communications Group. These partners are not only pitching in financially but also, bringing their human resources on board to successfully execute the challenge.
According to the statistics provided by the foundation, there is a surge in the participation of females in the hack programs that were organized ahead of the challenge. Since science and technology lean towards the male gender more, the foundation encourages that more females should take this opportunity to break the bias and participate in the upcoming challenge.
The second part of the meeting focused on the second year of the GSTEP Program. Year 2 would focus on the implementation of the GSTEP Challenge. The launch of the challenge would take place on the 14th of June, 2022. As part of the implementation process, the program is recruiting GSTEP ambassadors who would help propagate the message of STEM education and GSTEP. The selected ambassadors would go through a series of mentorship programs, and masterclasses with international experts from different fields, among others. Also, recruitment of mentors is in the pipeline as more children would be involved in the program. Once the challenge is launched, it would run through the following stages: assessment and selection, finalist support, finalist assessment, and, the exhibition and awards program, which would take place in December.
Mr. Affoh stated that the challenge would require all hands on deck as it is the first time such an event is being organized, about STEM education. Thankfully, the Ministry of Education is in full support as it falls in line with the government’s plans to implement and build STEM schools in the country. Once the challenge is launched, young learners from the two focused regions – Greater Accra and Ashanti regions – would be taken through how to register for the challenge and what to expect once they qualify.
Mr. Zur applauded the DreamOval foundation for taking this big step to make STEM education relevant in Ghana. He also commended the Ministry of Education and the Ghana Education Service for stepping up to help implement this program. He expressed the dedication of Fondation Botnar to make this program a success. Oren advised that the foundation would take into consideration monitoring and evaluation to get great results at the end of the day.
Mr. Zur remarked that he is impressed with the support the foundation is receiving from these partners especially from the Ministry of Education and the Ghana Education Service. He further mentioned that penetrating the government sector as an NGO is tough, referencing their situation in foreign lands. Mr. Affoh added that it was mainly because of the programs that the foundation has held across the country. The impact these programs have made on both students and teachers is significant. The constant courtesy calls on the Ministry and the Ghana Education Service to participate in these programs is also a factor.
The GSTEP Challenge is an initiative that would expose the youth of Ghana in the Junior High schools to the fast-growing technological world and the importance of STEM education. Through this, they would discover their innate abilities for innovation and entrepreneurship. This would help them identify problems in their communities and come up with life life-changing solutions.