About the Program
S.Y.STEM Coalition is excited to be a part of a new international partnership and to impact lives through STEM education beyond our borders here in the U.S. We currently have chapters in three U.S. cities: Tucson, AZ; Pittsburgh, PA; Los Angeles, CA and are adding an international program in Nyadire, Zimbabwe.
The program was initiated when a former teacher from Nyadire reached out to our organization and asked if there was a way for S.Y.STEM Coalition to help provide supplemental STEM programs in their primary and secondary schools. After careful thought and discussion with our board we agreed that providing supplemental STEM education in a rural, developing country was truly aligned with our mission and vision.
Zimbabwe is a beautiful, sub-saharan African nation, just north of South Africa. It was once the breadbasket of Africa, but shortly after its independence from Great Britain, faced a challenging political environment and has since faced many challenges as a nation. One of its current challenges is employment. Some estimates put Zimbabwe’s unemployment rate at a whopping 90%1. The majority of Zimbabweans don’t work for a traditional W2 job and earn their living through an informal economy, like working unpaid for a family business. This informal economy contributes to the high unemployment rate. The unemployment rate, whether accurate or not, may not be the main problem. The issue is that the majority of Zimbabweans who do make their living from this informal economy are subject to very low wages and, many times, poor working conditions. As an organization who has the vision to end poverty through STEM education, it only makes sense to offer a helping hand in a community that is so eager to see improvement.
In the next few months the S.Y.STEM Coalition Zimbabwe team will work directly with the community to refine the program and plan for initiation in the summer of 2022. The end goal of the program is to give interested students enough training in computer science that they can either pursue higher education in the field or secure a remote job with a software company anywhere in the world.
We will start by sending 2-3 S.Y.STEM Coalition volunteers to the community for two weeks to initiate the program. We will do this with our partners at The Nyadire Connection, a Pittsburgh-based, non-profit organization that has a long-standing relationship with Nyadire through various programs designed to support the community. While in-country, the S.Y.STEM Coalition volunteers will conduct our Robotics Workshop multiple times throughout the first week to many different groups of students. We hope the Robotics Workshop will spark interest in electronics and computer programming and, as such, serve as a launching pad for a Coding Club that we will lay the foundation for. We’re partnering with Carnegie Mellon University’s CS Academy, an organization that has developed a novel, high school computer science curriculum with the aim to make computer programming more accessible to high school students. CS Academy sent two volunteers to ASYV High School in Rwanda, where a similar coding camp was successfully initiated in 2018. In Nyadire, we will train 1-2 teachers in CS Academy’s computer science curriculum. Upon return from Nyadire, S.Y.STEM Coalition will provide remote support to the Coding Club, monitor its success, and develop partnerships with universities and software companies looking to attract more people interested in computer science. Possibilities to coordinate or partner with Africa University will be explored. AU is a “Pan-African” university located in Zimbabwe with a history of working closely with Nyadire. With this program, we hope to help address some of the employment challenges students face upon graduation from high school in Nyadire, while addressing the great need for employees in the computer science and related fields.
Our program is still in its infancy and will require a lot of nurture and care to realize the goals we’ve set out to accomplish. If you are interested in helping in any way, please reach out to us!
S.Y.STEM Coalition looks forward to working with the Nyadire Community, The Nyadire Connection, and CMU’s CS Academy to develop a unique and successful STEM program.
1 BBC News