Yesterday evening (9/3/16) board chair, Patricia English and nonprofit consultant who will later be introduced in subsequent blogs, Zarana Sanghani, discussed the last few months of the Wahjay – STEM program. Zarana asked some deep questions and we look forward to the upcoming blogs that will illustrate our responses to those questions.
The main topic of discussion was Wahjay-STEM’s recent trip to Liberia to train the teachers. We selected at random, 20 students in total, from both schools: Buchanan Demonstration School (public) and World Wide Mission Academy (private) to participate in the training. Eight teachers attended the training in total. During the consultant meeting, we talked about our partnership with the Nyonblee Cares Foundation, and best of all we spoke at a high level about the challenges faced during the training sessions and how we may be able to best approach them.
The main challenges that we have are:
- No books for the students
- Not enough computers ( we have 4 computers for 350 students that will participate in the program)
- Not enough robots (we have 8 robots for 350 students that will participate in the program)
- World Wide Academy successfully expanded its capped class level to grade 7 (expanding the number of students that we have in the program by a few)
- No electricity for the Buchanan Demonstration School
- Teacher professional development needs
The good news is that MOE Assistant Minister of Science, Saku Dukuly is discussing an opportunity with his colleagues to cover the cost of books for the students. There is no guarantee, however we remain hopeful.
Wahjay-STEM’s board was able to secure sponsorship from LoneStar MTN. Lonestar will install internet service for both World Wide Mission Academy and Buchanan Demonstration school (once the Nyonblee Cares Foundation can install a temporary generator) by the end of October 2016. Lonestar will also provide scholarships to our 25 afterschool program students in preparation for Liberia’s first national robotics competition that will be held in 2017. We were also able to secure donation to cover the cost of two robots from St. Timothy’s Anglican Church in Spring, TX. Lastly, at a meeting at Buchanan City Hall in Buchanan, Liberia, students from a local high school donated 15 USD (which was heart wrenching, read more about it in subsequent blogs), and the senators who attended, donated 800 USD and pledged much more. Wahjay-STEM is hopeful.
The goal of Wahjay – STEM remains the same, to set a standard in STEM curriculum for all Liberian public schools from the 4-6th grade. STEM is an integrative tool that enables critical thinking, presentation skills, debate, and confidence. The specific STEM program, VEX, interconnects all subjects: math, technology, engineering, and math. Not one subject is left out. In addition to the soft skills acquired by students affected by the Wahjay-STEM program, they learn how to build by comprehending the VEX build guidelines, program in C language, and learn via trial and error.
After our founder took a look at the present science curriculum implemented in the two schools, she quickly realized that the STEM program will enhance the student’s current curriculum; the program is not a replacement. Wahjay-STEM will enable the students to absorb more content taught in class because of the methods used to teach. Details of this approach may be found in later blog entries. Wahjay-STEM is implemented during the school hours and advanced students participate in an afterschool program. The students spoke up themselves; they were ecstatic about the program getting implemented in their school. They wrote short journal entries about their experience (please stay tuned for this information). The teachers were ready to take on responsibility for the program’s implementation, and the parents were excited that their children will be exposed to education that is competitive with developed nations.
One team of students, a count of five, were selected to showcase what they learned during training at the Buchanan City Hall meeting, hosted by Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence, the greatest advocate of the Wahjay-STEM program. The students built the base robot that they learned to build in two prior sessions , within 20-25 minutes. In previous days, they took roughly 1.5 hours. Our Wahjay- STEM founder was proud and the attendants were impressed.
We seek your prayers, we seek input, and we seek both your advisory and financial support. We must begin somewhere. This is an investment in the next generation of people who want to be a part of our competitive global economy. This is the best way to equip them. It is a foundation for the complex environments that these students will be required to thrive in for years and years.
Partners: Nyonblee Cares Foundation & Liberia’s Ministry of Education