CJ-UNESCO Education Camp in South Korea empowers girls in STEM education

The CJ Group Donors Camp held a first ever CJ-UNESCO Girls’ Education Camp for Future Scientists from 16 to 18 June 2018 in South Korea to foster girls interest and talent in the fields of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). The camp is part of the efforts made by CJ and UNESCO together through the UNESCO-CJ Partnership for Girls’ Education.

While strides have been made in improving girls’ access to education around the world, girls are held back early in their education by biases and social norms that influence the quality of the education they receive and the subjects they study. This is particularly true for STEM education. Today, only 35% of higher education students studying STEM are women, and only 17 women have won a Nobel Prize in physics, chemistry or medicine compared to 572 men.

In South Korea, the ratio of females in STEM professions is significantly low. Camp Director, Ji-sung Min, stated “it is a reality that girls’ entry into science and engineering fields is blocked in Korea. I hope that more girls will advance into the scientific community and grow to become the leaders of tomorrow through this camp.”

The Girls’ Education Camp gathered 78 girls and young women aged 12 to 19 to engage in discussions, STEM-related activities and programmes including on Astronomy, Lego Robots, and Drone Making & Racing. Participating girls were tasked with particular obstacles to overcome through scientific creativity and problem-solving skills.

According to UNESCO’s flagship report Cracking the Code: Girls’ and Women’s Education in STEM, girls appear to lose interest in STEM education with age. Cultivating girls’ interest in STEM education through programmes such as the CJ-UNESCO Girls’ Education camp is key to ensure that they take part in crafting solutions to improve lives and generate inclusive green growth that benefits all. We must continuously invest in their talent.

The camp received an overwhelming positive feedback, with 96% of girls sharing their satisfaction with the approach. Girls particularly enjoyed the astronomy activity, which studied stars and constellations. Looking forward, 86% percent of participants responded that they would participate again or recommend the camp to their friends. Following its success, the Girls’ Education Camp aims to develop into a long-term and flagship education programme for girls and young women.

Since 2014, the UNESCO-CJ partnership aims to provide a better educational environment and a brighter future for girls through education. CJ group is also a major contributor to the UNESCO Malala Fund for Girls’ Right to Education, which expands girls’ access to quality education, especially in countries affected by conflict and disaster.

As South Korea’s largest entertainment company, CJ Group is spreading awareness on the importance of girls’ education through global cultural events, including MAMA (Mnet Asian Music Awards) and KCON, as well as popular television shows, such as Produce 101.