Most frequently asked questions and answers
iNERDE is founded on some pretty radical and commonsense ideas. Radical as in believing in human and planetary development and not accepting the status quo. Above all, we believe in the kids.
- The future of Africa matters, not just to Africans, but to the entire world.
- The potential of African youth is unlimited. A child growing up in Bamako, Mali or Lomé, Togo has the same capacities as a child in the United States, South Korea, or Germany. But today, they do not have the same opportunity to develop their potential.
- Only Africans can solve Africa’s problems, and with the right tools, knowledge, and confidence, they can and they will.
- Education is the foundation of development and transformation. The key to Africa’s future lies in reaching young people with self-affirming education.
- STEM is the economic engine of the modern world and every world citizen needs to be technically literate to flourish. STEM education promotes innovative thinking, problem-solving, collaboration, entrepreneurship, and creativity.
- African youth have the same, or perhaps more, need and right to education in STEM as young people in the countries presently leading in technology.
- STEM knowledge will be the basis of economic development in Africa and will create a new landscape of opportunity for Africans.
According to Wikipedia, a social enterprise “is an organization that applies commercial strategies to maximize improvements in human and environmental well-being, rather than maximizing profits for external shareholders.” iNERDE seeks to emulate the dynamic nature of tech enterprises in North America in its thinking and operations but with the goal of contributing to the transformation of Africa through education and entrepreneurship. While organized as a non-profit and strictly adhering to 501(C)(3) parameters, we seek to partner with established STEM enterprises in North America and the world to forge WIN-WIN partnerships with Africans that increase opportunity for all.
iNERDE is from the “not-so-cool” descriptive term “nerd.” We decided to create an acronym from it, not to sound pretentious, but because we believe that the term has been stigmatized too much to the point where it discourages learning. So, we want to create a positive understanding of the term, put the “cool” back in it, and use it to encourage the pursuit of useful knowledge. In our team, we always introduce ourselves as “nerds” to create opportunities to revitalize the term “nerd” in our everyday conversations.
New Education for Radical Development
“i” is for innovation.
STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.
It is our cause that matters. Access to good education has opened our eyes to a new understanding of development; change for the better will never happen unless the people who need to make the change do it themselves. Of course, they need some tools, knowledge, and awareness, but the aspiration, motivation, and hard work must come from them. iNERDE’s programs are 100% directed toward helping our participants understand the necessity for self-agency to make both their lives and their communities better, while also giving them the essential tools and knowledge. We want them to develop this understanding at a very young age. By supporting us, you are supporting a new generation of effective change-makers.
Our long-term goal is to position iNERDE as a force for transformation throughout Africa, influencing curricula and education policy where we operate, and to help iNERDE “graduates” create opportunity in their countries. Between now and the day we reach that goal, we’ll continue to expand in Africa and develop our program so that it is reproducible in other countries, languages, environments, and age groups.
First and foremost, local schools. We believe we can only create lasting change by partnering with local schools, educators, and organizations to help them do what they do well even better. Right now, we are partnering with eight schools and have a long waiting list of others eager to work with us. We are also partnering with high-tech companies, other NGOs such as Translators without Borders and Tech Writers without Borders, and government entities.
Our curriculum has been inspired by Design Squad, NASA and DIGITS STEM education programs, and code.org for computer science. We’ve adapted these different styles to fit our target audience. This material presents us with thrilling STEM field activities and projects that are designed to deliver a profound but accessible engagement in science learning. Our curriculum is designed to involve parents and the local community, making our participants’ education the business of all those approximately them.
Demand has already far outstripped our resources. In 2015 we had 120 students from 4 schools in Mali, and in 2016 we added 2 more schools. We put 1 Master Teacher and 2 Teaching Assistants in each class of 30. We can staff and run much larger programs, but without much more significant sources of financing, we will probably cap growth at 50% per year.
Research conducted in the U.S. by the National Science Foundation shows that “by the 4th grade, 32% of students show a negative attitude towards science. This number increases to 50% by the 8th grade.” So, in the U.S., this is an ideal age to reverse the trends and get kids turned on to STEM. In West Africa, there is a high attrition rate in the higher grades, so it is also a good time to reinforce the practical value of education.