The African Science Academy (ASA) has been inaugurated in Tema to whip up interest of brilliant female students in Mathematics and Science to enable them to pursue advanced courses in these fields. The school, which is Africa’s first all-girls institution established to whip up interest in Mathematics and Science among brilliant female students who had successfully completed their second cycle education, offers Mathematics and Physics at the advanced level to prepare the students, aged 15 to 19, to sit the internationally recognised Cambridge International ‘A’ levels at the end of an intensive 11-month tuition. That is to help the students to qualify to pursue engineering, science and computer science in leading universities in Africa and in other parts of the world. Established in August 2016, the institution currently has 24 students from Cameroun, Ghana, Nigeria, Uganda, Ethiopia and Sierra Leone who are enjoying full scholarships that cover their tuition, boarding and other expenses. Applicants from Africa The students were among 145 applicants from eight African countries who applied for admission, but the 24 beneficiaries were considered the most suitably qualified after they had sat and passed entrance examinations conducted in eight African countries. Speaking at the inaugural ceremony last Friday, the Chairman and founder of ASA, Dr Tom Ilube, said the ASA was founded by the African Gifted Foundation Ghana, a Ghanaian registered non-governmental organisation (NGO) which is a subsidiary of the African Gifted Foundation of the United Kingdom. Dr Ilube, who was named as the single most influential black British by the 2017 Powerlist poll, largely due to his work in education and philanthropy, stated that the idea of establishing the school began 25 years ago when he was driven by the ambition to help talented female science students who were passionate to make a change in the areas of mathematics, science, engineering and technology as future careers. “We are finding young girls who are passionate about mathematics, science and technology to have profound impact on the continent,” said Dr Ilube, adding that, “A journey of 1,000 miles begins with a step and this school is the first step and we hope to grow in decades and with your help we will change Africa with one girl at a time.” Prioritise investment in STEM The British High Commissioner to Ghana, Mr Jon Benjamin, said to develop African leaders, there was the need to prioritise and invest in a strong educational infrastructure. “Africa has the youngest population in the world, with over 200 million people aged between 15 and 24. We need our young people to be equipped with skills relevant to the technological era since it is the youth who will develop the solutions to the development issues of our countries. “From climate change to agriculture; from software development to finding life-changing cures — a knowledge of technology and the sciences is crucial,” he stated. According to Mr Benjamin, girls and women continued to face unique and significant barriers such as gender discrimination and lack of encouragement in accessing science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. He expressed optimism that ASA would help bridge that gap in Africa by providing “gifted girls with access to new opportunities and an excellent pre-university education.” Shun mediocrity The Minister designate for Information, Mr Mustapha Hamid, said it was time for Africa to commit itself to offering the highest standard education to its people, particularly the girl-child, stressing, “We must not accept mediocrity and we must believe in ourselves to be among the best.” The Chief Executive Officer of Airtel Ghana, Madam Lucy Quist, said: “I consider ASA as an institution very important to provide our girls a safe place to develop a strong passion for STEM education to unearth their potential in future.” The Headteacher of ASA, Ms Efua Adabie, said the institution decided to offer a place for the 24 students in order to provide maximum support for the individual needs of each student. She added that the school had diverse volunteers called progression mentors, who ran co-curricular activities and guided the students through the university application process.
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