Nyawura James, 13, helps her mother with chores at a shelter in South Sudan in 2016. Nyawura James, 13, helps her mother with chores at a shelter in South Sudan in 2016. The new STEM Center in South Sudan aims to help young people in the country like Nyawura James, 13, who is living in a shelter with her mother after violence erupted in her community. (Photo: ALBERT GONZALEZ FARRAN/AFP/Getty Images)

New science and tech center unveiled in South Sudan

The center, with help from nonprofit humanitarian group IsraAid, will train South Sudanese youth to become engineers, technicians and mathematicians.

It's considered the world's youngest nation, having only been established in 2011. And it's still clearing hurdles after brutal civil unrest in 2013. But with the help of outside groups, the East-Central African country of South Sudan is steeling itself for economic and technological progress.

Now, the country is celebrating the opening of a new Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Center at the University of Juba, located in South Sudan's capital.

The center is the result of a partnership between the local university and Tel Aviv-based nonprofit humanitarian group IsraAid, among other organizations. The center, which began construction in 2012, has now opened its doors and will train South Sudanese youth to become engineers, technicians and mathematicians.

Students take notes during an English language class at the Juba Nabari Primary School in South Sudan. Students take notes during an English language class at the Juba Nabari Primary School in South Sudan. Schools in the country are still recovering after years of conflict, and the new STEM Center aims to expedite that recovery. (Photo: ANDREI PUNGOVSCHI/AFP/Getty Images)

American philanthropist Mark Gelfand, founder of the nonprofit Stem Synergy, is another partner in the development of the center. He worked with the school's leaders to design the layout that includes eight fully equipped science and tech labs on the university campus.

Mark Gelfand (center) poses with leaders and founders of the STEM Center at the University of Juba in South Sudan. Mark Gelfand (center) poses with leaders and founders of the STEM Center at the University of Juba in South Sudan. (Photo: Courtesy of IsraAid)

Despite the nation's gains, more than half of South Sudan's school-age children do not have access to an education. The STEM center's founders aim to curb that trend.

IsraAid also continues to devote time and manpower to recovery efforts in the wake of the major natural disasters that have rocked Puerto Rico, Dominica and other regions.

A volunteer with IsraAid checks the eyes of a hurricane survivor in Puerto Rico. A volunteer with IsraAid examines the eyes of a hurricane survivor in Puerto Rico. (Photo: Courtesy of IsraAid)

IsraAid volunteers unload supplies from a cargo plane in Puerto Rico. IsraAid volunteers unload supplies from a cargo plane in Puerto Rico. (Photo: Facebook)

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