By Tobi Awodipe
April 10, 2022 | 8:25
Jadesola Adedeji is one of the few Nigerians who are committed to educating Nigerians through STEM education. In an interview with Guardian Life, the co-founder of STEM METS Resources reveals how STEM education will equip and empower young children for the future of work and its impact on the education sector. Your interest in STEM…
Jadesola Adedeji is one of the few Nigerians who are committed to educating Nigerians through STEM education. In an interview with Guardian Life, the co-founder of STEM METS Resources reveals how STEM education will equip and empower young children for the future of work and its impact on the education sector.
Your interest in STEM inspired you to start STEM METS Resources. How does he help Nigerian children?
It is an Indigenous social enterprise committed to nurturing, enriching and inspiring young minds by providing quality, innovative and alternative educational learning platforms. As a STEM educational institution, we bridge the skills gap in the Nigerian education sector and prepare students for the future workplace through hands-on, project-based training programs using science, technology , engineering and mathematics (STEM). We are also bridging the gap resulting from the mismatch between traditional academic skills and the workplace skills demanded by employers through the early childhood intervention of STEM programs. In Nigeria, we have run several programs such as the Brick4kidz, The Little Engineer, and the Coding and Programming initiative.
How would you say you have contributed to quality education in Nigeria?
UNDG Goal 4 emphasizes quality education, which is essential for achieving sustainable development. It is essential to explore out-of-school learning and alternative models of quality education that nurture and equip children with relevant skills. A recent report by the World Economic Forum speaks of “schools of the future” where content and learning experiences that provide both hard and soft skills are redefining education systems. We see ourselves as strengthening the education system through complementary education programs that develop these skills.
What sparked your interest in STEM education?
The late Dr. Funmi Ogunwuyi and I founded STEM METS in 2013 in response to the unemployment crisis and lack of relevant 21st century job skills for school leavers. The idea was to intervene with skills development initiatives from early childhood. The commitment has also been to strengthen the education system in Nigeria while creating pathways to decent employment opportunities, entrepreneurship and financial sustainability. To prepare students for the future of work, we have launched a series of impactful programs through STEM enrichment classes in schools through extracurricular club activities or as an extracurricular subject in the school calendar.
Since its inception, we have reached 10,000 learners and held over 100 workshops. We know this is just tip of the iceberg considering that there are over a million school aged children in Lagos. We have also made an impact on children from different schools in Ogun, Oyo, Bauchi and FCT and we aim to directly reach 5000 learners every year over the next five years through our e-learning journey across Nigeria and Africa.
What challenges did you encounter and how did you deal with them?
In a developing country like Nigeria, there are many challenges when running programs like this. According to a WEF report, only 18% of our working-age population has a higher education and only 6% of our workforce are in high-skilled jobs. Access to quality and qualified workers to implement STEM programs is important. Over time, we have met this challenge by training and reskilling the workforce, ensuring the right investment in their skills and capabilities.
What are your plans to further improve STEM education in Nigeria and Africa?
Our perspective for the next five years is to reach 50,000 learners. We also intend to start a STEM center for STEM skills development which includes STEM teacher training programs. To achieve this, we are seeking more local and international collaborations which, in turn, will have an impact on the education sector.