World ORT and Coconut Grove Beach Resort, Ghana, are launching the training of women STEM instructors in Elmina to provide young girls and women with the skills and knowledge necessary to cope with the complexities and uncertainties of their environments, and foster economic self-sufficiency, mobility, and a sense of identity.
Course instructors will be female volunteer students from the local universities, Elmina and Cape Coast. The instructors will receive college credit and internship experience for teaching young girls in the Technology Centre. The Centre and student volunteers will conduct active outreach to children from low-income families who otherwise lack access to computers and online learning. Marketing efforts will ensure that the courses offered address the interests and skill level of local children.
The project will provide a foundation for future livelihood development and skills training for the female project beneficiaries. ORT will help young girls and women use and strengthen literacy and vocational skills through the application of information technology, and to understand the link between lifelong learning and income generation. The mission of ORT, for more than 140 years, is the advancement of people through training and education.
Project sustainability is strengthened by commitment from the local partner, which is Coconut Grove Beach Resort, whose ongoing philanthropic activities support maintenance and running expenses of the Nduom Community Library. Coconut Grove Beach Resort provides accounting and administrative assistance to the library on an ongoing basis. The project takes advantage of the numerous free software programmes, many of which enable girls to undertake self-guided learning among peers working on the same course; thus creating a supportive environment.
The free library registered an increasing number of visitors over the past year, with a weekly average of 390 community members accessing the book and magazine collection and visiting the library’s computer room. ORT will provide equipment to convert this room in the library into a dynamic Technology Centre for Learning: including a smart board and projector, a 3-D screen and other teaching materials.
It will offer a wide variety of free computer-based courses daily for children and young adults. Courses for these girls will utilise tablets with protective covers designed for young users to encourage them to interact with technology. Courses will run throughout the day, with afterschool and weekend courses offered in selected STEM fields: such as graphic design, coding, 3-D modelling, game design, video-editing, language acquisition, and academic subjects including math and science, as well as various educational games. The student volunteers/instructors will receive tool-kits to use in the impartation of STEM training to the beneficiaries.
Courses will take advantage of a wealth of online learning programmes, many of which have free access – including Khan Academy, E-Learning for Kids, Duolingo, Everyday Math, and Coding for Kids among others. These self-directed learning resources will provide a base for sustainable learning activities in the Technology Centre, with instruction and assistance provided to children working independently or participating in instructor-led courses; and with facilitators drawn from the skilled professionals within the Elmina community as well as university students from Nduom School of Business & Technology, Elmina.
The software will facilitate a broad range of activities as well as free software; such as Blender, Unreal Engine, and Sculptras. The smart board and projector will facilitate group lessons. Instructors (student volunteers) will lead courses on a wide range of subjects as described above. Some courses will be self-directed while others will be taught by an instructor, both under the direction of an instructor. Courses can be completed by students at their own pace. Selection of the student volunteers/instructors will be made based on educational background, course of study, and teaching experience. Student volunteers will receive college credit and internship experience for their role as course instructors.
Approximately six student instructors will be recruited to teach the young girls. Each student instructor will receive ORT STEM training of trainers’ instruction. Each student instructor will train approximately 4 – 6 girls aged 9 years at up to 2 – 3 lessons per week for two months – which is to begin as soon as the student instructors complete the ORT STEM training.