Regional Public-Private Partnership to Inspire Youth to Careers in Science
Washington, D.C. (December 8, 2016) – In honor of Computer Science and Education Week, the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF) and partners announce a new educational initiative in Latin America and the Caribbean called STEM in the Americas: Inspiring the next Generation of Science and Technology Students. The project seeks to promote science, engineering, technology and mathematics (STEM) to young students in Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Colombia and Chile.
PADF and partners including The Boeing Company and the Dart Foundation in Mexico will launch innovative STEM education initiatives that aim to inspire young students.
While school enrollment rates in the region have vastly improved in recent years, Latin American students continue to rank in the bottom third worldwide in math, reading and science, according to the latest Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) survey. One of the barriers to success is unequal access to education. The region’s poorest students are more than two years behind their wealthier counterparts, according to the Inter-American Development Bank, which predicts it would take decades for the region to catch up with higher performing countries in math and science.
“Science and technology education is fundamental to building a highly-skilled, professional work force in Latin America and for driving economic growth,” says Marcos Jimenez, CEO of Softtek USA and a board member for PADF. “When taught well, these subjects can inspire a sense of curiosity—which is tied to educational achievement—in even the youngest students.”
PADF is committed to furthering the UN Sustainable Development Goals. This program aims to address income inequality, provide quality education and promote gender equality. Whether it's a science fair in Mexico, a nature-based science curriculum in Brazil, supplying books and supplies to schools in Argentina or providing educational support to teachers and students in Chile, PADF and partners are working to bridge the digital divide.
These STEM initiatives aim to engage young children from disadvantaged economic backgrounds who many not otherwise have the opportunity to learn about the field. The programs are designed to promote greater student engagement in science and technology, particularly among communities that are disproportionately underrepresented in these fields, including girls and indigenous youth.
STEM in the Americas recognizes the critical role that teachers play in promoting science and technology and will create custom curricula based on each country’s needs.
STEM in the Americas is a member of the Latin American and Caribbean Network for the Popularization of Science and Technology (RedPOP), an interactive network, which promotes regional cooperation to further education in science and technology.
“Improving the scientific and analytical skills of students can solve a range of socioeconomic problems and help Latin American countries take a leading role in finding solutions to the region’s most challenging issues,” says Luisa Villegas, Deputy Senior Programs Director for PADF.
Often, teachers are not well-equipped to promote STEM education. The STEM in the Americas project will address the need for increased educational opportunities for vulnerable youth both inside and outside of the classroom. In all three countries the project will build teacher capacity as well as that of students.