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The Importance Of STEM In Post-COVID-19 Efforts In The Republic Of Congo

ON March 28, the Republic of Congo’s government took some radical measures to limit the spread of the new COVID-19 (coronavirus), including the closure of primary, secondary, tertiary, and technical-vocational schools.

A few weeks later, the government decided to consider the results of the first two quarterly to decide whether school age pupils will validate their year in order to avoid a gap year.

Moreover, for those pupils in exam classes, the government decided to provide courses on national radio and television.

However, for the universities and technical-vocational schools, the status remained unchanged. And, up to now, there are unfortunately still closed.  

COVID-19 has pointed out the Congo’s inability to ensure that learning never stops due to weak resilience of our educational program.

Moreover, today, as we commemorate World Youth Skills Day, we celebrate the importance of equipping young Congolese and young Africans with resilient skills.

Those skills will allow them to secure decent work, employment, and entrepreneurship. In doing so, the Congo needs to adopt and leverage a multipronged approach influenced by technology, innovation, and collaboration.

Besides, distance learning within a focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) Education and technical and vocational education and training (TVET) is one of the approaches to implement in the recovery efforts in post-COVID-19.   

Since the beginning of the COVID-19, engineers like me have been on the front line to cope with the effects of the virus, from the manufacture of the hydro-alcoholic gel, face shields using 3D printing technology, and ventilators to the implementation of telework solution and retail mobile applications.

Even post-COVID-19, engineers will continue to play a significant role in helping the Congo rebuild its economy.

For instance, to battle the learning crisis and counteract the effects of school closure, engineers will have to design new learning platforms and applications.

Also, regarding TVET, engineers will have to innovate to provide virtual learning experience using technology like augmented reality, artificial intelligence, robotics, and automation.

When it comes to the economy, engineers will have to develop new applications to make the mobile money payment more accessible and allow diaspora to send remittances easily so we can tend to a cashless economy. 

Therefore, the Congo must make a STEM a priority in order to build a resilient country.

It will consist of reshaping our educational system and orienting it toward a skill-oriented educational system where young Congolese will be equipped with tools and skills needed to not only enter the job market but also prepare for the disruption of the future of work.

Learning must become a lifelong process.  

Nevertheless, access to technology and the internet could be an obstacle in the quest to achieve resilience.

That is why the country needs to bridge the digital divide by investing in digital infrastructure to provide access to affordable and reliable broadband.  

In conclusion, COVID-19 has brought the Congo into uncertain times, but the hope is not lost.

Young Congolese engineers, by their different actions during this pandemic, are transforming the different challenges they are facing into opportunities.

Equipping youth with STEM and TVET skills will help them support recovery efforts and prepare them to mitigate future shocks or pandemics better.

(Source: WorldBank.org)

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