Washington, DC (February 21, 2018) — With a grant from The Boeing Company, the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF) is promoting STEM education in public schools in Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Panama.
During the yearlong program implemented by local nonprofit organizations, over 4,400 students in 57 schools will learn about science, technology, engineering and mathematics through science fairs and after-school robotics classes. Nearly 400 teachers will also receive comprehensive training to strengthen their leadership and capacity to teach STEM subjects.
“STEM education is vital because it drives our future,” said Luisa Villegas, Deputy Senior Program Director at PADF. “PADF is proud to make STEM education accessible in disadvantaged schools so that each girl and boy has the opportunity to grow and prosper.”
The booming technology sector has spawned a great need for innovators, engineers and scientists. As the global tech sector continues to grow, machines are gradually replacing traditional manual labor with jobs that require STEM skills. 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) data. In countries like Panama, traditional education methods have created a noncompetitive work force unable to meet modern job requirements, so employers are left to hire foreigners.
“Boeing is committed to empowering the next generation of thought leaders and we’re happy to support this initiative with PADF,” says Donna Hrinak, President of Boeing Latin America. “The STEM Academies reflect the spirit of innovation that drives our company. It’s a joy to see kids—especially girls—excited about science and math.”
Local nonprofit partners will implement the new education programs. In Argentina and Chile, PADF has partnered with Fundación Ciencia Joven; in Colombia, Jada Foundation; and in Panama, Fundación Nacional para el Desarrollo de los STEAM (FUNDESTAM).
In Antioquia, Colombia, STEM education will be introduced to schools that serve youth who were displaced by years of armed conflict. With only a 20% high school graduation rate, families in the area are particularly vulnerable. Introducing structured initiatives like STEM education will help to rebuild the social fabric that creates stability for families.
The STEM Academies financed by Boeing are part of PADF’s regional public-private initiative called STEM in the Americas, which is working in Latin America and the Caribbean to inspiring the next generation of engineers and scientists. In addition to Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Panama, PADF has implemented STEM education initiatives in Brazil and Mexico.
The Pan American Development Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, brings together many stakeholders to improve livelihoods, empower communities, strengthen civil society, support human rights, protect the environment and respond to natural disasters in Latin America and the Caribbean. Established by the Organization of American States in 1962, PADF has worked in every country in the region. In the last decade, PADF has reached more than 92 million people, investing more than $600 million in development resources throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. More at www.padf.org.