The MasterCard Foundation (MCF) Scholars Program at African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) was launched in November 2014 – a $25 million, six-year program to support postgraduate training in mathematical sciences for economically disadvantaged but academically talented young people in Africa who demonstrate a commitment to give back to their communities, with a focus on women.
The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program at AIMS has the following three inter-related program areas:
- Advanced training for employment;
- Improved quality of mathematics education; and
- Coordination and advancement of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) for development.
MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program at AIMS operates within a context where much of Africa’s economic performance has been based on extracting natural resources rather than growth or increase in economic sectors. However, within the interconnected global economy, knowledge, skill and development in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) are key drivers for economic growth and development.
Student enrolments in STEM at a higher education level on the African continent lag far behind other fields such as business, economics, law and social sciences. The MCF Scholars Program at AIMS helps to address development challenges and drive wealth creation in Africa through the three programme areas.
The ultimate goal is to increase the number of African STEM scholars leading technological innovations that can address development challenges and drive wealth creation in Africa.
In keeping with the terms of the grant agreement, AIMS, in collaboration with the MCF, commissioned Southern Hemisphere to conduct an external and independent final evaluation and phase II program design.
The findings of the evaluation showed that the Advanced Training for Employment program area is highly relevant as it provides African students with access to high quality, post-graduate mathematics education in Africa, which can help address Africa’s challenges.
The coordination and advancement of STEM for development program area showed that AIMS demonstrates lively and active communications and public engagement. These communications and public engagements are advancing STEM in Africa in general and have a strong focus on women in STEM.
Southern Hemisphere provided recommendations for program design which informed the design for Phase II of the program.