Who are we?
The P-STEM Foundation is a STEM advocacy organisation founded to promote STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education, career and entrepreneurship in historically disadvantaged communities. We focus on highlighting STEM opportunities; researching and quantifying attitudes to STEM; as well as working at changing perceptions at grass root levels by informing, promoting, and supporting communities, grass root organisations and learners interested in STEM.
Why do we exist?
The unemployed youth do not have the necessary basic skills in science and maths to be eligible for additional training or apprenticeships in the areas that we have the skills shortage. The P-STEM Foundation seeks to redress that by channelling & supporting more at risk youth into STEM education and careers. Changing the unjustified stigma that Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics has to be for a special type of individual or that there is no enjoyment that accompanies this field. When in actual fact STEM can be Fun, Relatable and attainable by anybody.
What do we believe?
We believe that to change youth unemployment in South Africa, and to increase participation in STEM from historically disadvantaged communities, we need to:
1. Work collaboratively with schools, community based organisations and youth. In particular, we believe in changing the current dialogue on maths and science education in South Africa, that emphasis blame and shame, focusing the blame and shame on schools, teachers and government and placing little to no responsibility on communities. We believe in placing greater accountability with communities to improve STEM outcomes, by emphasizing the role of parents, community organisations and community members in enabling STEM.
2. Increase equity in informal science learning. We acknowledge that within the South African context, Designed Science Spaces (such as Science Centres, Observatories etc), Community Based Science Programs, (such as after school clubs) and Everyday Science Spaces (such as media programs) are designed for, easily accessible to and cater to more affluent and urban populations. Historically disadvantaged communities today have less access to, have fewer programs designed for, and participate less in informal science learning. Where programs exist, they often do not take into account the context of historically disadvantaged populations in language, tone and representation. We seek to redress this challenge by not only designing and implementing programs focused on a wider diversity of populations, but also bringing awareness and creating dialogue around designing science spaces that allow for diversity.
3. Address existing attitudes to Maths and Science. The common belief among South Africans is that Maths and Science is for a minority elite. We need to work at redressing these perceptions to increase successful participation in STEM.
What do we do?
P-STEM focuses on the following:
1. Increasing the knowledge and interest in communities, schools and among learners in a wide variety of STEM careers, particularly in the historically disadvantaged communities of Southern Africa.
2. Quantifying and qualifying perceptions regarding STEM in disadvantaged communities.
3. Creating and supporting grass root organisations in communities that are promoting STEM and supporting STEM education.
4. Increasing the visibility and forecasting of STEM education and career opportunities