A five-day STEM clinic to boost girls’ participation and bridge the gender gap in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) has been organised in the Ahanta West Municipality of the Western Region.
Under the auspices of Yinson Production West Africa, the Ahanta West Educational Directorate and the Youth Bridge Foundation, girls from 70 schools in the municipality were brought together for the event.
The STEM clinic also seeks to boost the interest of female students in STEM-related courses by engaging them in hands-on experiments and other STEM-related demonstrations, including Physics Education Technology (PhET), scientific simulation demonstrations and mentoring sessions.
As a critical part of the Yinson Education Programme, the clinics will be held annually for various beneficiaries.
Over 500 Junior High School girls in the Municipality were offered the opportunity to have first-hand science experiments, the first they had experienced in their lives.
The experiments included measurement, acid-base reactions, and separation of mixtures, food tests, photosynthesis, and reflection of light and basic electronics. Also, they used PhET scientific simulations to study the PH scale, fractions, and integers, among others.
It was an opportunity for the beneficiaries to overcome their fears in the study of STEM, ahead of their Basic Examination Certificate Examination (BECE). For Mariam Abdul Rahman and other girls, the science apparatuses used were strange to them, despite studying science at the primary level.
The 15-year-old JHS 2 student of the Funkoe M/A Basic School, just like her colleagues, could not hide her surprise and naivety when the instructors pulled out the science apparatus for the experiment.
In an interview with Mariam, who aspires to become a medical doctor, she said she was more confused when the instructor mentioned science apparatus instead of science tools which she has been taught over the years.
“I have learnt a lot from the science experiments. [These include] filtration, acid and base, separation of water from sand, and water from gari, among others. This will enable me to do better during my exams, especially [the] BECE,” she noted.
The initiative by Yinson follows a statement by the United Nations, which points out that, though a significant gender gap has persisted throughout the years at the various levels of STEM disciplines all over the World, and women have made tremendous progress in increasing their participation in higher education, women and girls are still under-represented in the STEM fields.
Based on estimates, only 12% of members of national science academies are women and, in emerging technical fields such as artificial intelligence, only 22% are females. Gender equality and female empowerment will be crucial to global economic development and to the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals and targets by 2030. With this, Yinson Production West Africa believes its maiden STEM clinic will boost the interest of girls in the Ahanta West Municipality in climbing higher in the STEM-related fields.
The Coordinator of Corporate Social Responsibility for Yinson Ghana, Edward Mensah explained that girls’ science education is crucial for the company. According to him, “girls can gain confidence in STEM skills and abilities; girls can feel more comfortable working with computers and technology; girls can develop better problem-solving skills. More girls can enroll in STEM degrees in colleges and have better career options.”
Mr Mensah also highlighted that businesses should help in developing areas and communities within which they operate through the promotion of quality education, effective learning, and education through sports, providing skills improvement, and training opportunities among others.
He observed that such efforts could also aid in promoting environmental conservation. The Municipal Director of Education for Ahanta West, George Effah, said the directorate will provide opportunities for the girls to explore, experiment and excel in their respective fields of endeavour.
“We firmly believe that the future knows no man when it is shaped by the boundless potential and creativity of our young girls. This stands as a testament to our commitment to bridge the gender gap in STEM.”
“We recognise the demands and capabilities that reside within each and every girl here,” he stated.
Middy Benyah, a National Service person at Yinson Production, recounted how a similar opportunity changed her life and career path for the better.
“I was inspired and motivated to take up science programmes, which has benefited me today. STEM plays a crucial role in shaping the lives of girls. By embracing STEM, girls are equipped with the tools to unlock their full potential and create a brighter future. Let us inspire and support girls in their STEM journey as their success undoubtedly will shape the future of our society,” she noted.
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