Digital payments giant, Interswitch has partnered with Slum2School, a Lagos-based NGO focused on providing educational opportunities for kids in disadvantaged communities, to build a STEM and innovation lab in the Makoko area of Lagos.
The Makoko community is located on the coast of Yaba, just below and across the famous third mainland bridge in Lagos. With little or no access to clean water, electricity and schools, the small informal settlement of 150,000 (primarily) fisher-people is easily one of the most disadvantaged communities in Lagos. This is apparently why Interswitch and Slum2School chose to launch their initiative around there.
According to Punch Newspapers, the innovation lab, which is fitted with 50 computers, is situated at Adekunle Anglican School, along the main Makoko road that connects the community to the Yaba suburb.
“STEM help students learn things like critical thinking and problem solving, so they can be the next generation of leaders and innovators,” said Interswitch Group CEO, Mitchell Elegbe during the commissioning of the lab yesterday in Makoko.
“At Interswitch, we want everyone to have that opportunity. That is why we are rolling out initiatives at different levels in the country that support and promote STEM education in Africa, from the InterswitchSPAK national science competition, to working with Slum2School to build STEM and innovation labs across Africa.”
Interswitch is not the first company or brand to attempt bringing educational opportunities to Makoko. Pearl Africa’s similar, albeit gender-focused attempt and Kunle Adeyemi’s floating school project readily come to mind. However, there has been no noticeable or long-term impact from either projects. How the partnership between Interswitch and Slum2School will turn out any different remains to be seen.
Nevertheless, Slum2School’s claim to have provided scholarships and various learning centres to over 1000 children in the community positions the organisation as the best partner Interswitch could have for such an endeavour.
“Working with thousands of children from this community over the past 6 years, we have seen some of the brightest minds you could imagine,” says Slum2School founder, Otto Orondaam, “We know that the facility will enhance learning for every child who engages with it not just from Makoko but across Lagos state.”