Across Africa, less than 25 per cent of higher education students pursue STEM-related careers. That’s almost an entire workforce of young people missing out on careers that could provide meaning, purpose, and positive change for not only their own lives, but their entire community.
But the problem doesn’t just start in university, it starts earlier. Lack of trained high school teachers, lack of awareness on the importance of STEM and most of all: lack of access to proper resources and infrastructure in high school.
Students may attend high school for four to six years without ever setting foot in a science lab. And even if they do, the lab may not be set up with the right resources to help students learn. Science is just taught to their heads, but seldom involves their hands.
That’s where Redeemer came in.
Over the last three years, Redeemer has been investing in new microscopes. But the outdated instruments were still in great condition.
Ron van der Heiden, biology laboratory instructor, was determined to find new homes for these ‘old friends’ and allow them to continue being part of students’ science education, even in their retirement.
Van der Heiden approached EduDeo, a Christian charity that works to advance Christ-centred education worldwide, to see if their international partners could use them. Together, Redeemer and EduDeo came up with an even better idea: the microscopes were made available to Canadian Christian schools in exchange for a donation to EduDeo. The donated funds are supporting construction of new science labs at Mwase Secondary School in Lundazi, Zambia. Seven Canadian schools took advantage of this rare opportunity and raised almost $2,300. It was a win-win-win! Redeemer was able to demonstrate good stewardship and to show support for other levels of Christian education, Canadian Christian schools obtained quality microscopes, and students in Zambia will have more opportunities to receive an education that includes hands-on laboratory experience.
My hope is that children would have an opportunity to have at least a glimpse of that part of the creation visible only through the lens of a microscope, and then, through the lens of faith, understand in a fresh way how great our God is.
Brantford Christian School and Grace Christian School, two of the schools to receive the microscopes, also invited Laurie Koning, school relationship manager at EduDeo, to speak to their students about how their ‘new’ microscopes were impacting Zambian students who would otherwise be learning science without actually practicing it. Jeff Summerhays, teacher at Brantford Christian School, said, “It made [students] excited that they would be having a direct impact in helping to equip students in Zambia so that the world of science can be opened up to them as well.”
A quality science education isn’t just important for future doctors, engineers, meteorologists or computer scientists. It’s also important for allowing students to learn more about their Creator and the role they play in his creation. As van der Heiden said, “My hope is that children would have an opportunity to have at least a glimpse of that part of the creation visible only through the lens of a microscope, and then, through the lens of faith, understand in a fresh way how great our God is.”