Israeli humanitarian aid organization IsraAID helped open the first Center for Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education in South Sudan on November 13.

Over the next three years, the center is expected to provide vocational training to 10,000 young South Sudanese students in areas such as building and construction; electronics; computing; chemistry and optics. The long-term goal is to provide engineers, technicians, mathematicians and physicians contributing to the economic and social development of the fledgling African country.

The University of Juba is leading the initiative in partnership with IsraAID, STEM Synergy, the Gelfand Family Charitable Trust of Massachusetts and UNESCO.

IsraAID’s mandate in South Sudan is to accompany national government and civil society partners in their efforts to design, implement, deliver, monitor and evaluate sustainable projects, programs and services that meet the protection, health and education needs of communities affected by conflict and displacement.

“IsraAID has been working tirelessly with the university and STEM Synergy for the past year and half to make this day happen, and it is truly inspiring to see that our joint efforts have created such a crucial project which, I am sure, will greatly contribute to the social and economic development of South Sudan,” said Ophelie Namiech, IsraAID’s former South Sudan country director.

Current IsraAID Country Director in South Sudan Tim Berke added, “The result today is impressive. But there is more work to come. We need to focus our efforts on bringing STEM awareness and knowledge into the communities, so that all South Sudanese, women, men, girls and boys, have access to information and education.”

The center was officially opened by the Vice President of the Republic of South Sudan, James Wani Igga, on behalf of President Salva Kiir.

“STEM does not know any boundaries of gender, religion nor ethnicity. STEM connects people and promotes peaceful coexistence through knowledge and education,” remarked Mark Gelfand, founder of STEM Synergy and the Gelfand Family Charitable Trust.