A new education program entitled, Liberians Encouraging Students in Science and Technology (LESSAT) is a pre-college STEM innovation which will be launched in Monrovia very soon, the organizer, Ms Doris Myers has disclosed.
The launch is expected to take place in the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) on Crown Hill, Broad Street offices where LESSAT is located.
She said LESSAT is a not-for-profit, grass-root organization set up to inspire young people, especially females to take an interest in Science and Technology, Engineering as well as Mathematics (STEM) fields by giving free lectures slid shows entitled, “The Science and Technology Exhibition.”
Ms Myers has over the years observed that challenges youth face for a better STEM career in Liberia are enormous owing to the lack of knowledge in the sciences.
She said the need to resolve some of the challenges that will allow the youths to experience a better environment for STEM cannot be over emphasized.
“From the inception of the Liberian civil war that ended 14 years ago, the nation has suffered a serious setback relative to its man-power. This retrogression, weakened man-power has also greatly affected the STEM, which is vital to Liberia’s development. This has derived as a result of lack of interest in science and technology by Liberians, and the discouragement of Liberians with natural talents, who are able to invent, manufacture, or design their own ideas without going to school to learn it,” she told this newspaper in an exclusive interview.
She added that a majority of the country’s technical department heads are occupied by non-Liberians, while Liberians are assigned minor work.
For this reason, she said Liberia in most instances has depended on foreign nationals to perform scientific and technological tasks for the country which are very costly and contributes to the high rate of unemployment.
“These many challenges served as obstacles toward dreams or careers that could have been achieved as a result of studying science, technology, engineering or mathematics,” she said.
Ms. Myers said some of the challenges include but are not limited to inadequate infrastructure, poor learning conditions and lack of programs and motivation.
She said the study of science, technology, engineering and mathematics has made major impacts on the globe, “because it is the foundation of better development, improved standard of living, quality infrastructure and a major element of a strong, vibrant and productive society.”
Among other things, Ms. Myers said research has proven that if there were no Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, and their applications in the world, the world would have been a very miserable and unsafe place to live.
She, however, said the quest to bring answers and solutions to the numerous questions man has for the protection of his existence began the process of STEM. It is of great necessity to have the focus of the younger generation toward STEM, said Myers.
The LESSAT, she said strives to build up STEM education to create a world where young people are encouraged to celebrate fun and excitement of science and technology, and inspire them to take the subjects based career paths to become tomorrow’s much needed Science and Technology leaders.
She has meanwhile called on Liberians through the Ministry of Education (MOE) to promote STEM education to help bolster the economy.
“Encouraging STEM growth in a developing country like Liberia is important, because many new jobs will be created in general engineering, computer and IT industries nationwide. Educating people in these fields is going to bring tremendous growth to the nation’s economy and help get people out of poverty,” she said.
STEM, she said is also important for children, and as such the country needs to encourage the students to understand and embrace the technology that affects their daily lives. “Students should be advised on the merits of taking as many math and science courses as possible in middle and high school. And these courses need to be taught by engaged and enthusiastic teachers using hands-on and minds-on activities.”
She added that to make science and math courses fun and interesting will not only help students to learn, but might also plant the “seed of interest” that could grow into an exciting and rewarding STEM career.
“The need for the younger generation to enter the STEM sectors in and around the world especially Liberia should be highly prioritized. Using Liberia as a case study, the general atmosphere proves that the young people have less interest in the sciences,” she said.