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Jadesola AdedejiI: Changing Lives With STEM Education

By Tobi Awodipe
10 April 2022   |   8:25 am
Jadesola Adedeji is one of the few Nigerians who is committed to educating Nigerians through STEM education. In an interview with Guardian Life, the co-founder of STEM METS Resources discloses how STEM education will equip and empower young children for the future of work and its impact on the educational sector. Your interest in STEM…

Jadesola Adedeji is one of the few Nigerians who is committed to educating Nigerians through STEM education. In an interview with Guardian Life, the co-founder of STEM METS Resources discloses how STEM education will equip and empower young children for the future of work and its impact on the educational sector.

Your interest in STEM inspired you to start STEM METS Resources. How is it helping 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 are bridging the skills gap in the Nigerian educational sector and preparing 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 workplace skills demanded by employers through early childhood intervention of STEM programs. In Nigeria, we’ve executed several programs such as the Brick4kidz, The Little Engineer, as well as the Coding and programming initiative.

How would you say you’ve contributed to quality education in Nigeria?

The UNDG Goal 4 focuses on quality education and this is indispensable to the attainment of sustainable development. Exploring out-of-school learning and alternative models of quality education that nurtures and equip children with the relevant skills is paramount. A recent World Economic Forum report speaks to the “Schools of the Future” where content and learning experiences that provide both hard skills and soft skills are redefining education systems. We see ourselves as strengthening the education system through supplementary education programs that develop these skills.

What sparked your interest in STEM education?

Late Dr Funmi Ogunwuyi and I founded STEM METS in 2013 as a response to the unemployment crisis and the lack of relevant 21st-century workplace 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 for access to decent job opportunities, entrepreneurship, and financial sustainability. In preparing students for the future of work, we have launched a series of impactful programs via STEM enrichment classes in schools through extra-curricular club activities or as a co-curricular subject within the school timetable.

Since inception, we have reached 10,000 learners and conducted over 100 workshops. We know this barely touches the tip of the iceberg, bearing in mind that there are over a million school-age children in Lagos. We have also impacted children across different schools in Ogun, Oyo, Bauchi and FCT and we aim to directly reach 5000 learners annually over the next five years through our online learning pathway across Nigeria and Africa.

What challenges have you faced and how have you managed them?

In a developing country like Nigeria, many challenges arise when running programs like this. According to a WEF report, only 18% of our working-age population has tertiary education and only 6% of our workforce is employed in high-skilled jobs. Access to quality and skilled workers to implement STEM programs is majorAC. Over time, we managed this challenge by training and reskilling the workforce, ensuring the right investment in their skills and capacity.

What are your plans to further improve STEM education in Nigeria and Africa?

Our outlook for the next five years is to reach 50,000 learners. We also intend to start a STEM centre for STEM skills development that includes STEM education teacher training programs. To achieve this, we are seeking more local and international collaborations that will in turn impact the educational sector.