STEMpower is a non-profit organization based in USA. It was founded by Mark Gelfand, a US-born Jewish, with the aim to help students in developing countries access quality STEM education.
Inaugurated on Friday 7th May 2021, the center is expected to promote innovation among students pursuing STEM studies and equip them with hands-on lab-based education with emphasis on real-world problem solving and creativity.
The center is composed of computer and electronic laboratories that will benefit secondary school students from schools located nearby UR-CST.
These students shall be facilitated by laboratory technicians and trained university students.
Speaking at the inauguration ceremony, Gaspard Twagirayezu, the Minister of State in the Ministry of Education said that the center comes as a stepping stone to country’s ambitions as far as STEM studies are concerned.
“This supports Rwanda’s strategy to strengthen capacity building in STEM at all levels of education. A center like this open doors to young people who want to experiment, learn and create solutions using technology. It also bridges the gap of access to practical trainings that we still have in our schools and community,” he explained.
This has also been underscored by Fabrice Irankunda, a fourth year student in Electronics at UR – College of Science and Technology who will be among facilitators at the center.
“Getting this facility will enable us to put into practice what we learn in theory and see how to connect it with real life. Getting equipment like the ones here was not easy. There are a lot of problems out there that we will solve with this STEM center, because we have enough space and equipment to try new things and come up with new solutions,” he said.
Rwanda is one of the countries that are deliberately promoting STEM studies.
For instance, according to statistics from the Higher Education Council (HEC); 64.4 percent of the 9,968 students who qualified for government scholarships for the academic year 2019- 2020 pursued STEM courses.
A catalyst to the country’s development
According to the Ambassador of Israel to Rwanda, Dr. Ron Adam, it is difficult for a country to develop when quality education is not prioritized.
“After looking at the positive outcomes of STEM centers established in different countries, I contacted the founder of STEMpower to bring the same initiative here because I strongly believe that when a country has quality education, development is inevitable,” he said.
“Promoting quality education is one of the priorities of the Israel Embassy in Rwanda, and it aligns with the vision of Rwanda’s leadership,” added Dr. Adam.
STEM centers already exist in Ethiopia, South Sudan, Kenya, Somalia, and Burundi.
Kidist Gebreamlak, Executive Director of STEMpower, said that there is a plan to set up three more STEM centers in Rwanda in 2021 and four more centers in coming years.