ORT is leading an innovative STEM training project in Ghana which will promote computer courses led by women for young girls.
Backed by a UNESCO grant, the Women STEM Trainers initiative in the coastal town of Elmina will provide young girls and women with the skills and expertise needed to get good jobs.
The courses at the Girls’ Technology Center for Learning will be led by female students from the local university and will be aimed at girls aged nine to 12 in the community.
Children from low-income families who lack access to computers and online learning will be the key beneficiaries. They will receive the skills to thrive through high-quality teaching and training, giving them the best possible chances of employment.
The project is also backed by the Nduom Group and Coconut Grove Hotel whose philanthropic and operational support ensure the Nduom Community Library’s continued operation.
Elmina, in the central region of Ghana, has a population of around 35,000. There is widespread poverty and many children do not attend school or complete their education, moving instead into income-generating activities such as fishing or salt mining.
Even with low numbers of secondary school students, there are not enough classrooms to accommodate all those who do attend, and so schools operate in shifts. Pupils attend either morning or afternoon sessions and are often not taught the full curriculum. There are inadequate numbers of teaching staff and a severe lack of educational materials.
The community library opened almost a decade ago and organizes annual spelling, reading and essay competitions for local schools. The free lending library is used by hundreds of children and adults from the town and surrounding villages to access books and magazines and to use five aged desktop computers which are in poor working condition.
Celeste Angus, Director of World ORT’s International Cooperation (IC) program, said: “ORT plans to revolutionize the facility by converting the computer room into a dynamic Technology Center for Learning. It will include a smartboard, projector and other modern teaching materials.
“The new center will offer a variety of free computer-based courses every day for children and young adults, with an emphasis on age and skill-level appropriate courses.
“Girls, who typically lack access to such technology, will be given greater opportunities and encouraged to use tablet devices to take after-school and weekend courses in graphic design, game design, coding, video editing and academic subjects including Math and Science.”
Professionals from the Elmina community will lead the courses. University students from the university will also be brought in to aid the younger learners. These student volunteers will receive college credits and internship experiences in return. Two dozen students have been recruited so far and they will be given tool kits and training ahead of starting their teaching. It is hoped more students can join, pending additional funding.
The courses will utilize a range of online learning programs such as E-Learning for Kids, Duolingo and Coding for Kids.
Through its IC projects, ORT has worked in Ghana since 1975, running health, education and community development programs.