A Mobile STEM Lab is now providing practical science education to schools in Somalia for the first time in almost three decades.
Somalia is often associated with political instability, drought, and famine, but new hope is rising for secondary students in the country. In a rapidly changing world, Somalia needs to keep pace with socio-economic development, especially in the education sector. Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) are believed to help drive the changes that Somalia needs. Challenges facing the education sector in Somalia are the direct consequence of protracted emergencies stemming from conflict, drought, and flooding. These emergencies have significantly impacted the education system and children’s lives, resulting in a lack of access to education and widespread inequity.
According to the National Science Foundation, “In the 21st century, scientific and technological innovations have become increasingly important as we face the benefits and challenges of both globalization and a knowledge-based economy. To succeed in this new information-based and highly technological society, students need to develop their capabilities in STEM to levels much beyond what was considered acceptable in the past.”
The Mobile STEM Lab is a brainchild of Dr. Sadiyo Siad, a Somali doctor with two master’s and a PhD in a STEM-related field. Despite securing a well-paying job at one of the best European Universities, Dr. Siad opted to return to Somalia and start programs aimed at promoting the education of Somalis. Her story of patience, determination, and resilience is a key motivating factor for many young Somali girls who now understand the benefits of education. In addition to starting the Mobile STEM Lab, Dr. Sadiyo has also founded the first female-owned Polytechnic Academy (Hano Academy), which provides Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET), job creation, and upgrading of professional skills among others. She is also the founder of Somali STEM Society.
Somalia has experienced one of the longest civil strife that has led to instability in the Eastern Africa country. Almost all sectors of the economy were paralyzed due to insecurity and lack of stable governance. One of the most affected areas is education. All schools in Somalia lack basic science laboratories where learners can participate in scientific and technological studies. This especially affects the STEM subjects, including Chemistry, Biology, Physics, and Mathematics. However, K-12 students in Mogadishu now have a reason to smile, as they can learn STEM subjects thanks to the Mobile STEM Lab.
Through this noble initiative, the Mobile STEM Lab visits different schools and places within and outside the city to teach STEM subjects. For the first time, high school students can perform practical science studies just like their counterparts in developed countries who have special science labs. The Mobile STEM Lab helps to promote STEM subjects, especially among young people, and promotes technological innovation. Schools also participate in coding competitions in the city, courtesy of the Mobile STEM Lab. Students interact and solve problems related to STEM, get a chance to discuss STEM-related topics, and find ways to apply STEM principles in real-world situations.
The Mobile STEM Lab is changing the education sector in Somalia by providing practical education and promoting STEM subjects. It is hoped that this will increase science literacy and enable Somalia’s youth to become the innovators of tomorrow.