Overtime time, knowledge is either not sought or taken for granted. The common adage "knowledge is power" can be deceptive if not used positively to create change required for the 21st century. Therefore, creating new knowledge dedicated to the improvement of social conditions for young people and to positively impact society is a global challenge. Putting that knowledge into practice by both modeling the learning outcomes through actions and by being civically engaged should be thought-provoking demands from all of us. Globally, the unemployment rate for young people has hit the height of the centuries. Today young people are disproportionately branded by the society as "the lost generation."
This is an embarrassing social error of our time – devastating and preposterous for young people and humanity. It is like a man being buried alive for no justification– the path to extinction.
This is certainly not an isolated case in a developing country like Nigeria, but a global challenge for youth. Education and the willingness to apply it is a difference maker, a tool that can diminish poverty and reposition young people onto a path of job creation and sustainable future. Understanding how to learn, and having an opportunity to attend school is one of the greatest gifts we can give our youth, something that is often taken for granted here in the U.S. Around the world, there is a conscious transformation targeting grass roots change through increased exposure to science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM). The paradigm of STEAM is rooted in intuitiveness of the mind to discover one's ability, passion, and skills as needed to secure a fulfilling future. Thus, STEAM is a substantiated, economical and sociologically adaptable framework by which to transition, maintain, create and evolve educational elements, programs and institutions to include multidisciplinary-oriented practices catering to developing more Functional citizens. This interconnectedness of the present to the future guarantees future youth employment and a better future for our young people.
Grace Restoration International STEAM Academy (GRISTEAMA)
In pursuit of its long-term goals to address unemployment, generational poverty, health inequalities, social entrepreneurship, and good governance, GRI launched a school initiative this fall in Lagos, Nigeria. The initiative is called Grace Restoration International Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics Academy (GRISTEAMA) for kindergarten through eighth grade students. The school is located in a community that is impacted by numerous challenges, especially extreme poverty. The goal is to expose students to early STEAM preparation for college and careers that will make the students innovators and 21st century employers. The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, "One of the great liabilities of history is that all too many people fail to remain awake through great periods of social change. Every society has its protectors of status quo and its fraternities of the indifferent who are notorious for sleeping through revolutions. Today, our very survival depends on our ability to stay awake, to adjust to new ideas, to remain vigilant and to face the challenge of change."
Young people in Nigeria need a different orientation that is based on a mindset that guarantees a better future. This change must be created by young people, for the young people. Sir Herbert Read summed it well when he said, "Great changes in the destiny of mankind can be effected only in the minds of little children." This change must start with the K - 8 scholars. Although, GRISTEAMA subsidizes the tuition of $100 a quarter or $300 a school year; regrettably, most families cannot afford the tuition.
GRISTEAMA needs greater support. I know all of us are facing challenges on some level, but I urge people to donate whatever they can to benefit the GRISTEAMA by visiting www.gracerestinternational.org and following the donation link. Donations will help cover the cost of items including providing clean water by replacing the water pump, setting up the computer/library room, securing a used school bus to pick up students who live outside of the community so they do not need to walk miles to the school, construction of a security gate for the students' safety, providing a balanced daily nutritional meal, sponsoring a child's tuition desktop or laptop computers and playground equipment for physical activities are immediately needed.
GRI/GRISTEAMA is a registered NGO in Nigeria for educational opportunities for children. In addition to the GRISTEAMA students, we plan to service about 300-500 children. We support over 500 children providing access to basic education in Akwa Ibom State of Nigeria. We also provide the children with necessary school materials including paying school tuitions, school supplies (school bags, school uniforms, exercise books, note books, text books and story books), annual medical check-up and referrals when necessary.
In the future, we intend to provide mobile literacy trucks to enable our staff members to travel to local communities to provide literacy services to the community. The goal is to provoke literacy in different areas such as computer, reading and health awareness. In addition to supporting the students to go to school, we also provide after-school complementary education services including basic mathematics and real life application, teaching students the basics of reading and providing them with library, teaching student to explore the science world, providing computer literacy to only the students, but the community; providing students the opportunities to participate in physical education and to use play to reinforce learning and providing opportunities to develop children's talents in arts, crafts, drama, painting and textile making.
Through these social services, we aim at empowering the students and the whole community to put their knowledge and skills into practice and to motivate them to become creative, active members of their communities.