Friday, July 7, 2017

Liberian High School Scholars host "STEM: A Key In Achieving The Sustainable Development Goals" forum

In complementing the efforts of the United Nations, National and International partners, InsightSTEM High School Scholars along with the InsightSTEM West Africa Team on June 23, 2017, hosted a one-day Global Goals Forum to discuss STEM’s role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and what concrete actions can be taken by STEM students and professionals. The forum was held at the United States Embassy in Monrovia, Liberia thanks to their provision of the meeting space.

View of the participants in a joyous mood during the Forum
The Sustainable Development Goals are 17 pillars of global development which seek to create an inclusive and interconnected global community offering much of life’s benefits for the growth and peaceful and productive coexistence of everyone. These pillars form the bedrock to several advancements of the world including discoveries, inventions, innovations, interventions, and life’s sustenance. Since being adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015, there have been strategies and plans by the United Nations, National Governments, and other international partners to achieve these goals, which are set for 2030. However, even though these goals also cover cardinal aspects of developments, the efforts of the United Nations, national governments, and international partners alone, if not complemented by smaller groups raising awareness and organizing actions to support the bigger actions, cannot be achieved by the set date.

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
Discussions during our Forum specifically addressed: STEM: a major driver of Sustainable Development, the role of STEM education in achieving the SDGs, Youth and the Sustainable Development Goals, the role of Science and Innovation in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, how can students and professionals of the various STEM fields support achieving the SDGs, and what impact the SDGs have on the advancements of STEM education and applications.

There were influential Speakers during the Forum, including: 
Keynote Speaker
Hon. Kula V. Fofana
Liberian Minister for Youth Development

Hon. Kula V. Fofana is an advocate and activist on young people’s issues with an emphasis on young women and girls. She is the Assistant Minister for Youth Development at the Ministry of Youth & Sports. She is the immediate past Executive Director of the Paramount Young Women Initiative; an organization which seeks to advocate, educate and empower young women and girls. She has experience with young people’s issues and has worked with several youth and student organizations and has volunteered with national institutions and served in different leadership capacities.

Hon. Fofana spoke on "Youth and the Sustainable Development Goals". She presented on how youth play an important role in achieving the SDGs. This set the stage for participants to have a picture on how they can help achieve the goals. 

Rebecca Archer-Knepper
Assist. Public Affairs Officer
US Embassy in Monrovia
Ms. Rebecca Archer-Knepper is the Assistant Public Affairs Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Monrovia. She has been a member of the U.S. Foreign service for eight years and has served in Saudi Arabia, Uruguay and Burundi prior to coming to Liberia. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in NGO management. She was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Burkina Faso and has worked as a teacher, grant writer, human rights advocate, NGO director, and exchange program manager. Ms. Rebecca spoke on "STEM: a major driver of Sustainable Development". She outlined the various ways that STEM can be used to achieve the SDGs. Ms. Archer-Knepper's presentation inspired the participants to use their various disciplines play a role in achieving the SDGs.

Assist. Prof. Benjamin S. Karmorh
Coordinator, Climate Change
Environmental Protection Agency
Assistant Professor Benjamin S. Karmorh Jr is a scientist and administrator with an international and local reputation who has played key roles in enabling Liberia to uphold its responsibilities and commitments to the United Nations Climate Change Regulatory Frameworks, including his management and leadership for the preparation of national climate change communications and reports to international bodies. 

Mr. Karmorh was the only Speaker that aligned his presentation to the Liberian setting. He deliberated on the topic: "Investing in STEM to accelerate the implementation of the SDGs". Mr. Karmorh laid emphasis on Liberia's economic investment in achieving the SDGs; making reference to Agriculture, Electricity, Employment and Quality Education.

Luther Jeke
Manager, iCampus Liberia
Luther D. Jeke is the current Manager of iCampus - Liberia's first shared innovation, co-working and community space for organizations and individuals focusing on the intersection of technology, accountability and social change in Liberia. He has eight years of experience in the Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICT4D) sector. Luther is an alumnus of the US State Department’s President Obama Emerging Global Leaders Initiative (EGLI) in Washington, DC.

Mr. Jeke spoke about the role of Science and Innovation in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. He made reference to the present ICT sector in Liberia and how the government and everyone should work to achieve the SDGs.

Simmie S. Nyanfor, Jr
West Africa Coordinator, InsightSTEM
Simmie S. Nyanfor, Jr. is the West Africa Coordinator of InsightSTEM; founder and CEO of Innovision: a Science and Technology enterprise; as well as the founder and Executive Director of Youth for Better- Africa: a platform to identify, Support and Promote Potentials in fellow Young People, to promote self-development of Africa through higher vision. His interest is in development and sustainability, with a focus on STEM education and Health. Mr. Nyanfor presented on "InsightSTEM and the Sustainable Development Goals". He explained InsightSTEM's approach in achieving each of the Sustainable Development Goals, as InsightSTEM strives to create a world where all minds are critically thinking, STEM literate, global learners and believe it takes all minds of such to achieve the goals. 

InsightSTEM played a key role in exploring the minds of high school scholars, campus ambassadors, young STEM professionals and many young people through this forum to get involved with the SDGs by critically thinking, STEM literacy, global learning and making the right decisions for the fulfillment of this vision.

The Forum brought together more than 150 participants inclusive of high school students, speakers, InsightSTEM Campus Ambassador, experts working in the fields that the SDGs cover, STEM professionals, other stakeholders and interested participants to engage in an interactive discussions about the Global Goals (SDGs), the role of STEM education in achieving the SDGs, how can students and professionals of the various STEM fields support achieving the SDGs, the relationship between STEM and the SDGs, and what impact the SDGs have on the advancements of STEM education and applications.

--Romell Dede

InsightSTEM LIC Liberia, Communications Officer

--Jallah Sumbo
High School Scholars Representative, InsightSTEM