In partnership with the Ministry of Education, represented by the Department of Innovation and Scientific Olympiad, Al Jisr Foundation is implementing “STEMinds”: a 3-year initiative that aims to instill a culture of research and innovation among Omani youth in the field of science, technology and innovation to develop students’ skills in the seventh grade of the two schools, Suhail bin Amr and Asilah Bint Qais. The Foundation teamed up with YouThinkers as a technical partner to implement this initiative.
The project falls in line with the Oman’s vision 2040, as well as the 9th Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 9), “Building infrastructures that are resilient, stimulating sustainable industrialization and encouraging innovation” with the primary goal of diversifying sources of income in the Sultanate. Participating students will be equipped with a different set of skills at each stage through a series of workshops, educational trips and motivational talks over the next three years.
Research and innovation contributes to prosperity, improves life quality and creates employment opportunities. It is the basis for development and thus it is important to embed these skills at a young age. However, according to the primary research conducted by Al Jisr’s Education team and studies by The Research Council and Ministry of Education revealed that there is a gap between high school and university student attendance. One of the main reasons behind this gap is lack of research know-how at the early stages of school. Students lack the basics of research and are unaware of its importance thus they struggle later at the university level. If students were provided with the right foundation from an early age, academic performance, university ranking and unemployment issues will be improved.
According to Oman’s Sustainable Development Goal 9 (SDG9), research and development expenditure and number of scientific and technical journal articles (per capita) scored a value of 0.2 (% GDP) and 0.2, respectively, which is considered extremely low. These indicators suggest that Research and Development investments need to be intensified in the Sultanate. Investing in youth by giving them space and opportunity to do so is crucial as it will turn their energy and creativity towards solving today’s challenges and tomorrow’s problems.
The target group for this initiative consists of students in grade 7 – 9 (12 – 14 years). This age group was chosen because they are at the pre-stage of entering university. This makes them ideal candidates for the program and will therefore be an opportunity for them to explore their areas of interests. This will help minimize the gap between high school and graduate studies.