It has been said time and again that Africa has immense potential to transform its economy and that of the world, and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education has a huge role to play in this regard. Over the next decade, STEM job openings requiring STEM literacy are expected to increase by the thousands, according to thestempedia.com, and Africa, whose labour force is projected to surpass that of India and China by 2040, stands to benefit the most. But to derive these benefits, Africa’s burgeoning young population will have to be equipped with requisite skills for the 21st century economy hinged on STEM education.
The continent currently lags behind the rest of the world in STEM education, with less than 25 percent of African higher education students pursuing STEM-related career fields and more students pursuing social sciences and humanities, according to the African Development Bank (AfDB).
To make quality STEM education available, accessible and cost-effective across Africa is possible. However, the burden cannot be borne by government alone. It requires collaborations through public private partnerships with global agencies, NGOs, Ministries of Education across Africa, multinational corporations, financial institutions and telecommunication companies. This is where Wings of Justice Africa, has stepped in to create impact through its product, GetBundi having realised the criticality of STEM education to Africa’s future. Indeed, as Adefunke Ekine, Associate Professor of Childhood Education at Tai Solarin University of Education, and Ayotola Aremu, Professor of Educational Technology at University of Ibadan, have observed, “Without a huge investment in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education, Africa will not achieve the goals the African Union has laid out in her 2063 agenda.”
To be clear, the African Union’s Agenda 2063, a long-term framework intended to transform the African continent over a 50-year period, aspires for inclusive growth and sustainable education programmes that can ensure skills revolution emphasising innovation, science, and technology. The Agenda 2063 projects that by 2063 Africa should be a continent where “well educated and skilled citizens, underpinned by science, technology, and innovation for a knowledgeable society is the norm and no child misses school due to poverty”.
Wings of Justice’s GetBundi focuses on post primary education. This decision is hinged on the understanding that for many young Africans, secondary education is the last schooling they will receive before entering the workforce, yet many who are completing primary schooling do not have access to secondary education. And while African governments are making progress in expanding access to primary education through compulsory basic education programmes, opening the door to quality, relevant secondary education remains a challenge.
GetBundi, a company of Wings of Justice Africa has developed the right STEM courses covering six (6) years of post primary education to ensure African youths are not left behind. The goal is to make quality STEM learning in Africa a reality and to make it available and successive (because people learn at different paces). Warehoused on Ogelle, Africa’s first user generated content and video on demand platform for African content only, GetBundi will offer highly prepared and effective learning programmes for Junior Secondary School 1-3 and for Senior Secondary School 1-3, as well as revision classes for Africans aspiring to competitive examinations like Junior Secondary School Certificate, Senior Secondary School Certificate, Unified Tertiary Matriculation Exam (UTME), SAT, Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), etc. Available subjects are English Language, Mathematics, Basic Technology, Basic Science, and Computer Studies for Junior Secondary School 1-3, and English Language, Mathematics, Further Mathematics, Chemistry, Physics, Biology, Data Processing, and ICT for Senior Secondary School 1-3. To cater to African youths seeking foreign education, the programme has partnered with a New York-based Professor of English to teach Spoken English and present a full syllabus for those taking SAT or TOEFL. There is also provision for a live interactive (question and answer) session for users on the last Saturday of every month.
“Our content can be used as a standalone to support individual students in school as a continuous education tool, home/self-taught learning, government or private school support, external examination guide and teacher support,” says Osita Oparaugo, founder, GetBundi.
High quality, STEM-based secondary education that is accessible to all will, no doubt, prepare youths to enter the workforce, improve productivity, and spur economic transformation, unlocking a virtuous cycle of both human and economic development. However, STEM education in Africa is bogged down by issues around cost, access, quality, and teachers’ welfare. Wings of Justice has taken these factors into consideration and plans to deliver Education Without Walls for All Africans at a highly subsidized fee of $50 per student/family per year or for free with the right local or international support. It has agreed in principle with telecommunications and satellite internet service companies across Africa for partnership to ensure that GetBundi tagged Education Without Walls for All Africans permeates the continent, reaching the targets regardless of their location. By making the programmes available all year round, it has also tackled effective management, remuneration and professional development of teachers.
“Six years of quality programmes created by some of the very best in Africa is what we provide as we recognise that access and quality of education must go hand in hand. Quality without access will lead to inequality and exclusion; access without quality will limit the potential and will not bring about the desired results,” Oparaugo says.
Oparaugo is of the strong view that Africa must embrace and prepare its populace for a future driven by technology, ensuring that the continent emerges as a global competitor.
“Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), as well as English Language, must be of great focus to achieve an Africa beyond aid. Creating a knowledge-based economy through STEM education is a lifeline for the continent, ensuring the growth of a STEM capable citizenry. Massification of STEM education as a countermeasure will enable Africa to meet and exceed global competition and prepare for the future,” he says.
Indeed, what Wings of Justice is offering through GetBundi has the capacity to contribute so much in turning Africa’s fortunes around. With its target of reaching at least 3 million students in the first three years with the right support, GetBundi may begin the journey towards reversing the current trend where a continent that boasts 60 percent of the world’s arable lands, 30 percent of the world’s reserve of minerals, and the world’s youngest population, ironically, produces only “3 percent of global GDP, accounts for less than 3 percent of international trade (mainly primary commodities and natural resources), and shoulders 25 percent of the global disease burden”.