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Establishing the first STEM education in a vocational school in Egypt

ExxonMobil Egypt partnered since 2012 with the Misr El-Kheir Foundation, a local NGO, and the Ministry of Education on a three-year initiative to create a new science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education program at the Advanced Technical Industries School of Suez, in the Petrochemical Department founded for this purpose.

The program’s goal is to create a higher-quality educational environment by enhancing teacher quality and providing a successful model of STEM education for schools. ExxonMobil Egypt’s $350,000 contribution helped with curricula development, capacity-building of teachers and administrators in cooperation with training provided by the American University in Cairo, and funding for lab equipment. In the first academic year of the program (2013–14), the school ranked first among vocational schools in Egypt, and of the 68 students enrolled in the program, nine (six female and three male) won first place in the regional science competition and third place country-wide. After representing Egypt in the world's top robotics competition, three students from the school won Judge Awards in the VEX Robotics World Championship. The Ministry of Education plans to replicate the curricula in all vocational schools across Egypt.

“The program is a real addition to us in the industrial education field and a breakthrough in the technical education field that Suez never experienced before.”

Engineer Khaled Fahim, headmaster, Advanced Technical Industries School of Suez

The teacher training ExxonMobil Egypt funded included workshops for 14 teachers on topics such as English, IT, research methods and approaches to STEM education. To provide students a real world application of their studies, the program also included visits to nearby petrochemical plants. Furthermore, over the summer, students participated in a capstone project related to the use of robotics in the petrochemical industry. Due to the success of the inaugural year of the program, more than 400 students applied (compared to 120 students in the previous year) to be enrolled for the 2014-15 academic year, of which 70 were chosen.

Another group of students participated in the 27th European Union Contest for Young Scientists held in Milan in September 2015, and came first with an innovative solution to improve the capacity of wind turbines used in homes.

For its third academic year (2015-16), 52 students have been selected and are currently enrolled in the Petrochemical Department, the increasing number of female students is noticeable.

The Ministry of Education recognized these achievements in a press conference held in April 2015, where ExxonMobil Egypt participated in students’ awarding on the panel. The success of the Suez School has encouraged the Ministry of Education to replicate STEM education in vocational schools in major industrial centers, such as Alexandria and Port-Said.

STEM students in Egypt
Photo — Students from the STEM program at the Advanced Technical Industries School of Suez in Egypt receiving recognition from the Ministry of Education and ExxonMobil Egypt P&GA Manager.