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Sustainable impact: investing in Africa’s future through STEM education

By offering cutting-edge science and technology learning with opportunities to solve real-world problems, Dr. Sidy Ndao is inspiring students through robotics and unleashing the next generation of changemakers.

Dr. Sidy Ndao is passionate about exposing students to STEM education and ensuring that they reach their maximum potential. He saw a gap in access to STEM learning and opportunities for students to apply what they learn in the classroom to real-world challenges.

As a result, Dr. Ndao created a digital platform featuring tutorials and quizzes alongside training and certifications. He also founded the Pan-African Robotics Competition (PARC), which sees students put their skills to work in an exciting, fast-paced annual event that gathers brilliant young minds from more than 30 different African countries to craft solutions using their STEM skills. 

Dr. Ndao’s long-term goal is to offer this experiential learning to classrooms across Africa and inspire one million students to pursue STEM-related career paths by 2025.

“Deloitte believes in our mission. Everyone who has provided support believes in our success and knows that education is vital to the continent — to uplifting people.”

– Dr. Sidy Ndao, PARC Founder.

Most of Dr. Sidy Ndao’s work can be captured within this question: “what do we need to do to truly transform our continent?”. When he observed that most technology on the African continent is imported, Dr. Ndao recognized the opportunity to answer that question and build the foundation for a fundamental shift to take place. 

The continent’s working-age population is set to increase by two-thirds before 2030. To give those current students positive exposure to critical STEM skills, Dr. Ndao endeavored to make each encounter at PARC feel both engaging and accessible. After completing challenges that demonstrate how to leverage STEM skills to create solutions to local problems, students are able to see those skills as a means to improve their local communities — and beyond. Ultimately, the hope is that they should be able to leverage those opportunities and open the door to future prosperity.

“I’ve seen how education has helped me in terms of becoming financially stable and being able to enjoy certain privileges. I feel this same experience can apply to other people, especially underprivileged children living in Africa, where many of them don’t have access to high-quality STEM education. With the right opportunities, they can grow to become future leaders and enable their families to have a better life.” — says Dr. Ndao.

“With the right opportunities, they can grow to become future leaders and enable their families to have a better life.”

– Dr. Sidy Ndao, PARC Founder.

Selected as one of 12 innovators who are catalyzing change in education, Dr. Ndao’s initiative was recognized for creating space for students to discover and engage in science, technology, engineering, and math. 

Dr. Ndao’s approach is to combine contextual education and practical application. The Pan-African Robotics Competition offers students the ability to engage in critical problem solving while simultaneously exploring challenges that are relevant to their community and environment. During the most recent competition in Dakar, Senegal, they learned about the future of transportation, the impact of drought, and different ways to leverage science and technology to increase food security. Students considered many aspects of the challenge they are tackling, then combined their skills and experiences to co-create solutions that were both imaginative and impressive.

While the Pan African Robotics Competition is an annual event, Dr. Ndao has made significant strides in developing a virtual learning platform and incorporating robotics in Senegal's education curriculum. These solutions can be scaled across other African countries and create a permanent reminder of what is possible for the continent when the right talent is supported.