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Leveraging STEM Programming to Strengthen Youth Capacities

Rapidly identifying and building the competencies of young adults is essential in supporting them to focus on productive areas of interest and identifying ways to develop these interests. Through the Youth Steering Group (YSG) initiative under the Ghana Science Tech & Explorer Prize (GSTEP) program, selected young adults in Greater Accra and Ashanti Region are given the knowledge and skills to build competencies through Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) while positively influencing other youth and impacting their communities.

The YSG initiative focuses on supporting young adults to generate ideas using STEM, and churn them into enterprising products and solutions that address issues in communities. The participants of the initiative known as Youth Ambassadors, are taken through a series of masterclasses led by international experts. Each masterclass is followed by an application task where the ambassador applies what they learned. This is done to help develop their skills and build their capacities to enable them to effect positive change in their communities.

Ama Pomaa Mensah Adjei, a student of Santa Maria RC JHS, is a Youth Ambassador under the YSG Program. As part of the program, Youth Ambassadors are to identify problems in their communities and develop solutions to the problem through STEM. For Ama, frequent power outages in her community has been a source of concern. The unavailability of power impacts the ability of herself and fellow students to study and adequately prepare for school. To address this problem, Ama’s idea is to generate energy from streams and rain. During the program, Ama will be supported to develop a prototype to address the problem in her community.

The masterclasses organized during the YSG initiative cover presentation and interview skills, rapid ideation and prototyping as well as learning business and leadership skills from top executives during the CEO-for-a-day event. The masterclasses are designed to provide theoretical and practical skills and examples to develop the Youth Ambassador’s public speaking and presentation skills, encourage idea generation and creative thinking as well as provide technical skills in the design, making and assembling of prototypes.

Youth Ambassadors are also provided with training in mentorship. They are taught how to engage mentees, carefully identify key areas of support they need and providing the support required. Ama is excited to have learned so much about mentorship. She believes she can make positive contributions by mentoring other young girls to build their interest in STEM. She also wants to encourage and support her peers to adopt a fun and creative approach to subjects such as Mathematics and Science.

The GSTEP Challenge is a challenge prize that encourages young adults to develop solutions to problems in their communities through STEM. The challenge is in its second year and is being implemented by a consortium of five organizations which include DreamOval Foundation, Foundervine UK, Challenge Works UK, MEST African and DEXT Technology.

The GSTEP Challenge is funded by Fondation Botnar, a Swiss philanthropic organization that invests and advocates for the inclusion of youth voices and equitable use of artificial intelligence (AI) and digital technologies