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Education professor joins group aiming to transform STEM education in Africa

Closeup of Sola Adesope
Sola Adesope

Sola Adesope has long been dedicated to Washington State University’s land grant mission of extending knowledge to the local community, the state, and around the world. He’s thrilled to be joining a project that presents opportunities to showcase work at WSU in his native Nigeria and across Africa.

Adesope, Boeing Distinguished Professor in the College of Education, was recently invited to join the Africa Center of Excellence for Innovative and Transformative STEM Education. The 12-member international scientific advisory board is composed of prolific scholars from around the world and is tasked with providing research direction for training the next generation of STEM education across Africa.

“One of the key goals of the Center is to be a leader in researching and addressing grand challenges to STEM education in Africa,” Adesope said. “Our role will be about providing the vision to advance the research component of the Center.”

Peter Okebukola, President of the UNESCO’s Global University Network for Innovation, is the director of the Center. Renowned for his own research and scholarship, Okebukola tabbed Adesope to join the Center and he was eager to get involved.

“Dr. Okebukoka is a prolific scholar and has published over 200 scientific papers in international journals so for him to reach out to me was such a humbling experience,” Adesope said. “The group includes people from different universities from around the world and we have an opportunity to speak with ministers (i.e. secretaries) of education from around Africa. Our mission is to be a major part of education reform not just in one country, but all of Africa. It’s quite a privilege to be connected with this group.”

Adesope’s experience in Africa should serve him well as he tackles this latest mission. In 2014, Adesope and two other WSU faculty traveled to Nigeria to implement a project to promote literacy among young girls in the region. The group met with policy makers, administrators, school principals and teachers to discuss how education can empower girls.

College of Education Dean Mike Trevisan and Adesope are currently working on another project to lead the development, dissemination and sustainability of trauma informed education in Nigeria especially amidst displacement, abductions and attacks that have ravaged northeast Nigeria.

In addition to Adesope, recent WSU Ph.D. Emmanuel Jaiyeola was selected to give a presentation to the Center of Excellence board members. Jaiyeola will discuss re-shaping STEM education to fit the culture and challenges of the region.

“I’m trying to use the existing framework in education research and direct it to provide a contextual approach to Africa,” Jaiyeola said. “How can they make their research relevant? In Africa there are cultural differences and technology differences, so we have to suit their development and their progress. That is the way the research should be going.”

The two WSU scholars are excited to make a difference and take WSU’s land grant mission international.

“It’s a great opportunity to showcase the work we’re doing here at WSU to colleagues around the world,” Adesope said. “It’s a unique opportunity for WSU to play a major role in STEM education reform in developing countries.”

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