Obinna Ukwuani, a Nigeria-based graduate of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), is launching Africa’s first-ever Science Technology Engineering Mathematics (STEM) school in order to equip students with special skills in innovation, according to CNN. Ukwuani, who grew up in Washington, D.C., is the founder and former CEO of Exposure Robotics Academy, a summer project that taught 113 boys and girls from 17 states around Nigeria how to code and build robots.
Inspired by the success of the academy, Ukwuani decided to launch a learning center called “Makers Academy” in Enugu, Nigeria, where youth will learn and develop innovative skills to create local solutions to local problems.
Ukwuani completed eighth and ninth grade in Nigeria, where he says he was surprised to see how far behind Nigerian students were in terms of education.
“In the United States, if you work hard, you’ll be fine in this life. So I had that moment where I knew I wanted to improve things in Nigeria,” he explained.
Ukwuani spent five months pitching his business proposal to potential investors and so far has attracted four investors who are each making a $50,000 investment.
“It’s a long-term model. It could be a decade before they get their money back,” he revealed to CNN.
Creators Not Importers
Ukwuani says he wants to use his experiences at MIT to inspire young Nigerians and mold a crop of innovators who will create essential items that are currently being imported from the West.
“We import everything, and it comes back to education. We’re not doing a good job,” he explained.
“Now more than ever we need more options, and we don’t have them.”
He hopes to launch the education center by 2018 or 2019 and estimates that the school will be able to accommodate at least 600 students.
Ukwuani insists that the students enrolling at Makers Academy will have to have exceptional skills in mathematics and innovation.