Jonathan Kennedy Sowah is a man on a mission. A mission to make it easy for Ghanaian students in poor communities to understand the complex science, geometry and computer science they learn in class through the use of robotics.
In recent years, Ghana has devoted much attention to STEM – science, technology, engineering and mathematics education – through new policies but many rural areas are yet to benefit due to inadequate infrastructure.
Sowah established InovTech STEM Center to serve these underserved communities and schools across Ghana, teaching students and teachers STEM through robotics education. His company “leverages Educational Robots, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Embedded Systems for its notable course,” according to CNN.
Teaching web design, 3D modelling and printing, app development and so on, Sowah and his InovTech STEM Center urges students to be creative.
“Computing [and coding] should be like a basic language– every child should learn,” the 23-year-old told CNN. “Now they know the relevance of what they’re learning in class. They know that if I’m able to learn geometry, this is what I can do with a robot.”
Born and raised in Ghana’s coastal township of Teshie in the Greater Accra Region, Sowah spent most of his time working at his grandmother’s provisions store while schooling. His interest in IT saw him quit school at age 13 and get a job at a local internet café.
He took advantage of his free access to the internet and learned new things.
“I started researching emerging technologies, watching coding and robotics tutorials online and learned how to repair and troubleshoot the network servers, computers, and printers. After a year, I decided to go to a boarding school to focus solely on my academics. So I got admission into Bright School, Kukurantumi, where I completed my basic education. I then proceeded to Labone Senior High School purposely to do Pure Science; thus Elective Maths, Chemistry, Physics and Biology to become a Neurosurgeon,” Sowah told DT Africa.
At Labone Senior High School, instead of science, he was offered a course in Geography. And the lack of emphasis on IT in his new school propelled him to start a creative technology club called CREATECH. “We started learning. We started teaching ourselves as well. And then we started going for robotics competitions,” Sowah said.
Inspired by his geography teacher, Sowah turned CREATECH into InovTech STEM Center which now has partnerships with the Ghana Education Service, Robotics Education and Competition Foundation, Competitive Kids STEM, and other organizations interested in STEM.
Sowah told DT Africa that when he decided to pursue robotics engineering at the university after completing high school, he didn’t find any university offering that course for undergraduates. So he learned robotics on YouTube from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Coursera, Udemy, University of Pennsylvania, and Duke University.
He said with research showing that 75% of the fastest-growing occupations now require STEM skills and knowledge, he hopes that his country and other international organizations will invest in STEM in Ghana and across Africa to produce creative and problem solving citizens that will provide solutions to Africa’s problems.