A regional training workshop on effective and gender-sensitive teaching of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) has been taking place, since November 15, 2022, in Lomé. Initiated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), in collaboration with the Ministry of Primary, Secondary, Technical and Handicraft Education, this training aims to promote practical experimentation, highlighting the focus on robotics, artificial intelligence and 3D. This, for a STEM education that takes gender issues into account.
The new vision of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is to encourage more young Africans to undertake studies in science, technology and engineering. This vision constitutes the beginning of a stage in the problematic of science education combining theory with practice. In this context, a regional training workshop on effective and gender-sensitive teaching of science, technology, engineering and mathematics has been held since November 15, 2022, in Lomé. For three days, participants made up of teachers, teacher trainers and decision-makers from 8 countries, namely: Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Togo, will familiarize themselves with new technological tools. The training is done in two phases. The first phase, which took place online from August 23 to 25, trained participants in coding with scratch, the mobile application with Appinventor, the creation of an object with Tinkercad and the discovery of the Coglabs app. The second phase, face-to-face, is the present session, whose agenda includes several themes: ” the role of STEM and basic science education in achieving the SDGs”, “achieving effective STEM and basic science education”, “practical methods for effective STEM education”, ” training in artificial intelligence and robotics, as well as ” gender equality in STEM “. Several practical works are also planned, in particular installations and discovery of the Cura and Tinkercad applications, of the FLSUN Delta 3D printer; testing and problem solving by 3D printing, etc.
Under-representation of girls in science education
On the occasion, the Secretary General of the National Commission for UNESCO, Mr. Agbo Michel, addressing the issue of gender equity in STEM, suggested that today, girls are increasingly more, many to be educated. However, they often do not enjoy the same opportunities as boys in terms of school completion and choice of education. For him, social norms and expectations influence the quality of the education they receive and the subjects or disciplines they study. Mr. Agbo said that they are particularly under-represented in science, technology, engineering and mathematics education and therefore in STEM careers. This disparity between girls and boys is all the more worrying, since STEM careers are considered to be the engine of innovation, job creation, social well-being, inclusive growth, as well as sustainable development. In this context, Mr. Agbo Michel said that the Togolese Commission for UNESCO has always supported girls, by regularly organizing science camps to motivate the best to move towards scientific fields.
Opening the proceedings on behalf of the Minister in charge of Primary and Secondary Education, Mr. Wodomé Kojovi, Dean of the General Inspectorate of Education, noted that the achievement of Aspiration 1 of Agenda 2063 of the UNESCO, demands that Africa make significant investments in the field of education. This, in order to develop its human and social capital through an education and skills revolution, with an emphasis on innovation, science and technology. For him, it is therefore urgent to put the experimental method back at the center of science teaching and learning. In this sense, several challenges remain to be met, the main one being to train teachers in STEM for quality education. Which, for Mr. Wodomé Kojovi, will increase the number of students in STEM fields and increase, at the same time, the number of young boys and girls in scientific professions.