Planet Earth Institute Partners with E-Lab to Promote STEM Education

E-Lab (The Engineering Lab Africa) is a Kenya based education organisation that brings science, technology, engineering and mathematics – collectively referred to as STEM – to African students between the ages of 6 and 18. Operating out of Nairobi, E-Lab has hosted numerous classes and project days to education children about the importance of developing STEM knowledge and skills.

The Planet Earth Institute, a firm advocate for STEM education in Africa, has partnered with the E-Lab to produce a visual essay documenting the first-class STEM education practices exhibited by the E-Lab. The essay includes young Africa students using power drills to create advanced technology, demonstrating the often practical nature of E-Lab’s classes, students using computers to learn about coding and information about one project designed to improve access to education for refugees.

The organisation claims students between the ages of 6 and 13 are most likely to gain long-term benefits from the classes they run. It is at this age, says the E-Lab, that students are most ‘receptive’ to what they are being taught. The Planet Earth Institute has also created a programme focusing on young Africa students, after spending a great deal of time and resources improving higher education. The programme is called STEP and has hosted study days in Mauritius and Angola, reaching thousands of students with an important message about the benefits of learning STEM subjects.

Planet Earth Institute chairman, Dr Alvaro Sobrinho, believes STEM education will be essential if Africa is overcome its 21st Century development challenges. In an age of robotics and advanced technology, argues Dr Sobrinho, Africa students will need to learn the relevant skills to be useful in Africa’s technology driven, knowledge based economy.

Africa’s Future Depends on Business, claims Alvaro Sobrinho

Writing in the Huffington Post, Chairman of the African NGO the Planet Earth Institute, international banker, businessman and philanthropist, Alvaro Sobrinho, claims Africa’s development depends upon businesses. As the “recognised engine of growth”, business has a vital role to play in Africa’s future, argues the Angolan.

Recalling the words of Klaus Schwab, spoken at this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Alvaro Sobinrho claims an “emphasis on responsible and responsive leadership is especially pertinent for Africa”. If Africa, says Sobrinho, is to meet the needs of its population it must look to business to provide the responsible and responsive leadership required. With millions unemployed and a fast growing population of young people – 10 million people are excepted to enter Africa’s labour market every year for the next decade – every effort must be made to create new jobs.

Overcoming Africa’s challenges is a task that many stakeholders must participate in, argues Sobrinho. But as the main source of growth and employment, business has a key role to play. Investing in clean energy solutions, educating young Africans, and providing capital to African start-ups are all activities business can undertake. Bringing new technologies, innovative business practises and managerial competence are all examples of responsible and responsive ways business can further African development.

Alvaro Sobrinho calls on all “private sector companies operating on the continent to embrace their leadership position” and work with national governments and international agencies to ensure a sustainable development in Africa. We must recognise, says Sobrinho, that “frustration and discontent are only increasing” among those who have missed out on progress. To rectify this, leaders must act responsibly and respond to the needs of the people.

Coalition for Research and Innovation Announced at Davos

Planet Earth Institute deputy chair, President Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, attended the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland last week. During the event Her Excellency joined an expert panel on the global outlook for science and gave a speech announcing the Institute’s new R&D (research and development) initiative.

After a successful panel discussion and welcome reception to her speech, President Ameenah Gurib-Fakim worked together with Thomas Kariuki, Director of the African Academy of Science and Ibrahim Mayaki, CEO of New Partnership for African Development, to publish an article about the important role science has to play in Africa’s development. Titled, “Africa’s future depends on its scientists. Time to stop the brain drain”, the jointly written article focused on the need for a science, technology and innovation (STI) fund.

The authors argue that “with African countries still spending a measly 1.3% of the total global spend on R&D, such a dedicated fund for STI across Africa will be crucial.” Only by developing its scientific capacity, continue the authors, can Africa overcome the numerous development challenges the continent is facing, such as urbanisation, climate change, agricultural issues and disease pandemics.

Increasing spending on science in Africa is a primary goal of the Planet Earth Institute. The organisations founder and guiding spirit, Dr Alvaro Sobrinho, has been calling for more resources to be diverted to scientific research and education for many years. He firmly believes that Africa’s future lies in science, technology and continuous innovation.

The authors use the publication to announce the Coalition for Research and Innovation (CARI), an alliance between science leaders and international donors that seek to focus and coordinate science, technology and innovation funding across Africa. CARI was announced during the World Economic Forum to the assemble guests and is part of the Planet Earth Institute’s new R&D initiative being promoted by President Ameenah Gurib-Fakim.

Plant Earth Institute Deputy Chair to Attend World Economic Forum

The 47th annual World Economic Forum will take place next week in Davos, Switzerland. This year, deputy chairwoman of the African NGO the Planet Earth Institute, President Ameenah Gurib-Fakim will attend the forum and deliver a speech to the assembly of prestigious and influential guests.

The World Economic Forum annual meeting is a who’s who of powerful people from the world’s economic and political elite. Well known political figures will be in attendance, including John Kerry, the 68th Secretary of State of the United States under Obama, Christine Lagarde, former French finance minister and current director of the International Monetary Fund, and British Prime Minister, leader of the Conservative Party, Teresa May.

Alongside a host of high-level representatives of international trade and business groups, the politicians will discuss the state of the global economy and make proposals for future developments. President Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, of Mauritius, will take her place among the distinguished groups over the course of the event.

Her Excellency President Ameenah Gurib-Fakim will join a panel to discuss the state of science and scientific research globally. Her Excellency will also give a speech to the assembly, during which she will announced a new Planet Earth Institute Campaign. Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the campaign aims to mobilise capital for investment in research and development in Africa. The campaign will reach out to national governments, international donors and the private sector, communicating the benefits a strong scientific research base could bring to Africa.

Dr Alvaro Sobrinho has expressed his gratitude to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for supporting the campaign financially. Scientific research has not kept pace with other developments in Africa, Sobrinho explains, ensuring the availability of funding for scientific research will be essential to Africa’s continued success.

President Ameenah Gurib-Fakim’s speech at Davos will be the launching point for the campaign. Many of the organisations the campaign will target will be represented in the audience, giving President Ameenah Gurib-Fakim the chance to reach out to them.

Planet Earth Institute End of Year Round Up

Celebrating a year in the development of Africa’s scientific capabilities, the Planet Earth Institute has published an end-of-year round up documenting the major successes of 2016. The organisation has gone from strength to strength over the course of the year, creating new partnerships with prestigious organisations, successfully launching several new programmes and hosting prominent, development focused events.

The Planet Earth Institute was particularly proud of launching the HE Ameenah Gurib-Fakim PhD Scholarship Programme, which had been in the pipe line for some time. The programme awarded the first 10 PhD scholarships during the summer. Over the next decade the Planet Earth Institute hopes the programme will fund a total of 10,000 PhDs, with more funding released each year.

The Institute reached out to high school students for the first time with the Science, Technology Enrolment Programme (STEP), which hosted interactive study days in schools and around Mauritius and Angola. The programme aims to rectify the low enrolment rates into science and mathematics tracts by African students. The Institute believes that a high-quality science education will ensure that African students have the skills they need to thrive in Africa’s fast developing economy. Having reached some 500 students in 2016, the Planet Earth Institute hopes to reach many more in the coming year, particularly in Angola, where the programme has only just begun.

Encouraging young Africans to pursue a scientific career was also the topic of a conference hosted by the Planet Earth Institute in London. The conference brought together a wide variety of experts, government officials and business leaders to discuss the creation of a new generation of scientific leaders in Africa. A day of speeches, lectures, presentations and workshops were organised, including a speech from Planet Earth Institute chairman, Dr Alvaro Sobrinho.

Finally, the Planet Earth Institute received a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to drum up funding for research and development on the continent. This project will be carried out in 2017, along with the continuation of the scholarship programme, STEP and the Planet Earth Institute’s other ongoing campaigns.

Dr Alvaro Sobrinho “delighted” by STEP in Angola

Dr Alvaro Sobrinho declared his delight at the launch of STEP (Science, Technology Enrolment Programme) in Angola. The Chairman of the Planet Earth Institute, international banker and philanthropist, explained the purpose of STEP in Angola as providing “essential practical scientific and English language training to young people in Angola”.

The Planet Earth Institute pioneered STEP in Mauritius, where the organisation has an office and a solid base of support. The programme hosted 7 events over the course of the year, reaching nearly 500 young students. STEP was well received by participants and lauded by Dr Alvaro Sobrinho and Mauritian President, Her Excellency Ameenah Gurib-Fakim.

The very first STEP event in Angola was attended by some 140 children on the island of Mussulo. Partnering with local development organisation Aldeia das Artes, the Planet Earth Institute arranged a collection of science and language focused activities for the children. The programme is design to inspire young students to pursue a career in science, engineering or mathematics.

Students were given hands-on experience with scientific techniques including paper chromatography and introduced to scientific concepts such as air resistance and static. In an effort to improve the students grasp of English, the sessions were given in English and translated into the students native tongue.

The final day was given over to the production of a musical production conducted by the children, recounting all the things they had learnt over the previous days. The event was immensely enjoyed by all those participating. Ana Madaleno, founder of Aldeia das Artes, explained the importance of the event saying it was about promoting the “social inclusion of children of the island by teaching community values ​​and breaking social barriers”.

Dr Alvaro Sobrinho described the partnering charity, Aldeia das Artes as “outstanding” and expressed his enthusiasm for future STEP events in his homeland, Angola.

STEP Study Day Focuses on Space Technology

Earlier this week, the Planet Earth Institute hosted a STEP (Science and Technology Enrolment Programme) study day focused on space technology. The day of interactive learning was held at the Northfields International School, Mauritius.

Led by Dr. Maggie Aderin-Pocock, space scientist and TV presenter, 50 students between the ages of 13-14 were given the chance to gain hands-on experience and knowledge of space exploration technology. The day-long learning event was opened by a welcoming speech from Mauritian President, and Planet Earth Institute Vice-President, HE Ameenah Gurib-Fakim.

Dr. Maggie Aderin-Pocock began with a presentation on the solar system, before moving on to explain the importance of space science for our everyday lives, focusing particularly on the role of satellite technology. The discussion was followed by hands-on activities, with HE Ameenah Gurib-Fakim joining to speak directly with the students.

The space science focus of the day stems from the recognition that African development will hinge on the continents ability to utilise space science technology. This is because many modern technologies depend on a functioning space based infrastructure. Satellite technology, for example, is used to maintain a wide-range of services, including communications for financial transactions, telecommunications, mobile communications and the internet.

In January of this year, the African Union signed into existence the African Space Policy and Strategy, which details how the organisation intends to support research and development in space technology and services in Africa. Given the growing importance of space science, it seems only logical that the Planet Earth Institute make space science the theme of a STEP education day.

Over the course of the year, STEP has hosted 7 study days, engaging with more than 500 students in Mauritius. Dr Alvaro Sobrinho explained that STEP “helps to foster a deeper understanding of the sciences among Mauritian secondary students”. The programme coordinators hope to inspire young African students to pursue a career in the sciences, with each STEP study day focusing on a new and exciting topic.

Planet Earth Institute Receives Important Grant from Gates Foundation

The African focused NGO, the Planet Earth Institute (PEI) has been awarded a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation to pursue its objectives in Africa. The PEI will use the funding to create a campaign aimed at finding resources for research and development on the African continent. In particular, the NGO seeks to marshal capital for investment in science and technology.

The grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will make a significant contribution to the ongoing efforts of the PEI to advance the scientific capabilities of Africa. The charity believes that improving Africa’s science, technology and engineering capacity is the only way to overcome the myriad development challenges the continent faces.

The PEI has focused on primarily on promoting scientific education, funding a range of initiatives from secondary school educational days to committing to fund thousands of PhD programmes over the coming decade. The new campaign will be notably different from the organisations prior work, focusing on generating funding by persuading governments, financial institutions and private capital to coalesce around the shared goal of funding scientific development in Africa.

The campaign will be lead by PEI Chairman, Dr Alvaro Sobrinho, and Deputy-Chair, President Ameenah Gurib-Fakim. In a statement on the project, H.E. Ameenah Gurib-Fakim pointed out that, “Africa produces less than 2% of the world’s scientific research”, indicating the dire situation on the continent at present. In light of this fact, President Gurib-Fakim described the new campaign as “vital”.

Meanwhile, Dr Sobrinho expressed his gratitude towards the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for recognising the importance of supporting research and development in Africa. He pointed out that while Africa has seen economic development in recent years, “scientific and technological output has not kept pace.” Investing scientific research will help to restore the balance.

Planet Earth Institute Launches STEP in Angola

As part of a broader strategy to promote the scientific advancement of Africa, the Planet Earth Institute launched a high-school focused education initiative, aimed at promoting scientific learning to students. The organisation hopes the programme will encourage young African students to pursue an education in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects. The Planet Earth Institute believes a STEM education is the best way for young Africans to prepare themselves for the technology based economy they will enter.

The Science and Technology Enrollment Programme (STEP) first launched in Mauritius earlier this year. After a successful start, the Planet Earth Institute has now announced the launch on STEP in Angola, the birthplace of the organisation’s Chairman, Dr Alvaro Sobrinho. Through his spent most of his youth in Portugal, Dr Sobrinho returned to Angola to direct a branch of Banco Espirito Santos.

Due to Dr Sobrinho’s connection with the country and its unique development needs, the Planet Earth Institute has already focused a great deal of attention on Angola. The Institute contributed to the creation of a research institute at one of the country’s universities and recently announced plans to fund Angolan PhD candidates. The launch of STEP in Angola is therefore the most recent of several efforts by the Planet Earth Institute to aid the country.

The first event of STEP in Angola will take place at the beginning of September. Working in partnership with Aldeia das Artes – Meninos do Mussulo, an Angolan based charity, the Planet Earth Institute hopes to deliver education and the opportunity to learn skills to more than 1500 students across the country. This event will be followed by hands-on activity days on the 14th and 15th of December. Students will be encouraged to take an interest in science, technology and even the English language.

The Planet Earth Institute intends to hold regular STEP events in Angola henceforth. All events will focus on promoting science and science based learning to the students involved.

PEI Outlines the Way Forward for African Education

Committed to African development, the Planet Earth Institute (PEI) has become deeply involved with improving the quality of higher education in Africa. From funding a research centre in Angola to creating a funding initiative that promises to deliver 10,000 PhD scholarships over the next decade, the PEI is laying the groundwork for a 21st Century education revolution in Africa.

Following the guidance of its Chairman, Dr Alvaro Sobrinho, the PEI maintains a keen focus on science, technology and innovation. The scholarships funded by the PEI are focused on several key areas, including energy, water, health and agriculture. The organisation is choosing candidates with backgrounds in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The combination of these fields is today referred to, in short, as STEM subjects.

The PEI believes that improve STEM research in Africa is essential if development challenges are to be overcome. Not only does STEM research tackle some of the biggest issues facing Africa, such as water shortages, inadequate health care and inefficient agriculture, it also offers a way to overcome the African youth bulge. Millions of young Africans are expected to join the labour market every year for the next 10 years, 100 million in total. Finding useful and fulfilling employment for them will depend largely on their education and the opportunities it offers. With a background in STEM subjects, graduates will have no problem finding positions working for dynamic private sector companies.

In order to bring STEM education in Africa up to the necessary standards, the PEI offers several recommendations. Firstly, to build stronger links between the private sector and universities. This will enable universities to understand the needs of businesses and educate their students accordingly. Secondly, universities should pay close attention to labour markets and ensure their programme will produce graduates that the market is looking for. To create the best, most innovative scientists Africa should set up Centres of Excellence, where resources can be pooled and best practises developed.

Following the outline from the PEI will create a progressive, dynamic educational sector in Africa, which can contribute to combating the eclectic range of issues facing the continent, while making the lives of individuals more fulfilling.