STMicroelectronics FOUNDATION’S 2021 ACTIVITY REPORT
ST Foundation’s 2021 major projects and goals were:
- assist the formal educational system during the Covid 19 generated crisis;
- update and revise existing courses to address the increasing demand of specific computer skills revealed during the e-learning transition;
- restart standard programs, wherever possible, and;
- focus on the elderly population by testing of two new courses explicitly dedicated to them.
As of December 2021, the Digital Unify Program’s standard activities have reached 861,469 beneficiaries since its inception.
2021 Milestones and Report Summary:
- The appointment of the new President
- Update on Standard DU Programs
- “Society‘s Digitalization” Program: Focus on Italy and France
- Core Courses Update for Online Teaching
- Finalization of the eLearning Platform
- The ST Foundation Communication Activity
- The Online Data Reporting System
- Policies and Procedures
- DU Pictures
- Appointment of the New President
Patrice Chastagner, the Foundation’s President, passed away in April 2021. His outstanding contribution to the organization’s development, professionalism, and warm demeanor will forever be remembered by every Foundation member. Mr.Pietro Palella, who was already a board member, was proposed and unanimously appointed as the new President during the Board Meeting held on May 6.
- Update on Standard DU Programs
The Digital Divide has been a rising side effect of economic and social development brought upon by technological advancement for the past 20 years. However, during the Covid-19 pandemic, the gaps have increased significantly, enlarging existing inequalities and becoming a critical factor in social marginalization. For this reason, fighting digital disparities has become a priority that needs to be addressed efficiently and effectively. In this global context, throughout 2021, the Digital Unify Program confirmed its two major objectives, continuing the 2020 strategic directions and more in detail:
- The restart of standard activities wherever possible.
- Formal school system support in order to help all the stakeholders involved (i.e., families, students, and teachers) better manage online activities.
Digital competencies became paramount during 2021. Knowing how to operate a computer meant continuing to work and/or study in this new scenario where the pandemic strongly unveiled inequities and disparities. The Digital Unify Labs were reactivated as soon as it became possible to have them reopened. The organization quickly transitioned its educational content and tools to online classes to address this situation. Through standard activities such as the ICB (Introduction to Computer Basics), the Advanced, and the Tablet for Kids courses, the Foundation tried its best to reach the most at-risk communities that were even further marginalized by the Covid 19 constraints.
Globally, the DU Program saw different situations. In African countries like Burundi, Congo, Senegal, and Sierra Leone, the courses were managed in presence as soon as health restrictions were lifted. In Asia, particularly in India and the Philippines, the courses followed a mixed approach, and for the first time, we assisted at classes fully organized online. Another exciting initiative organized in India was the T4K program on Wheels. The DU labs became mobile to bring the courses to those communities that needed them the most, keeping students connected to their learning activities, despite the fact that they lived in impoverished areas.
The numbers at the end of 2021 reveal the following: 861,469 trainees were reached, 43,992 courses have been organized since the program’s inception, and 86,826 students took part in the ICB, Advanced Courses, and Tablet for Kids classes only in 2021. During the various lockdown periods, 206 courses were organized entirely online.
In 2021, the trainee breakdown by country is shown below:
3. “Society’s Digitalization” Program: Focus on Italy and France
The current global situation and the increased digital dependency revealed both unbelievable progress and huge inequalities of access to it. This technological progress made distance learning and teaching possible for many; however, it also marginalized those who did not have the appropriate tools or competencies, revealing significant disparities.
In this scenario, following the European Parliament’s call to implement ad hoc strategies in the field of education and digitalization to close those digital divides still affecting too many contexts, the Foundation confirmed its efforts in helping schools and families better manage eLearning activities more engagingly and creatively.
The Society Digitalization Program entered the second year of activity, still maintaining its focus on Italy and France.
The #Weareallconnected Initiative
The initiative, which was launched in 2020, was reconfirmed in 2021 together with the collaboration with ACRA Foundation.
The first quarter of 2021was dedicated to the organization for the new edition of the Dispensa Sostenibile course, offering the following:
- A computer course for primary schools’ teachers to help them better manage their online classes during the lockdown periods;
- The “food wave course” for secondary schools to give teacher competencies and ideas on how to propose the 2030 agenda goals to their students:
- 113 people participated in 3 webinars organized by the ST Foundation in collaboration with ACRA. The vital support of the ST volunteers of the Agrate and Castelletto sites contributed to the animation of very lively online sessions.
The Foundation’s activities were then devoted to launching the brand-new initiative on digital careers promotion from April to September. The rationale behind this decision was very precise. With the previous initiatives, the Foundation presented digital skills as learning or teaching improvement tools to study and teach better in the new scenario created by Covid 19 pandemic. Now, it wanted to introduce them to 15 to 18-year-old students as essential elements to have access to future careers in a work environment that is still unknown to many young people.
Through this initiative, the organization’s goal is not only to present but also to offer a concrete and positive experience in a moment in which the future seemed both uncertain and grim. With the support of the Human Resources Department of the Agrate ST site, 22 volunteers were selected to offer testimonials during the webinars creating curiosity towards these very particular jobs among the students of northern Italy.
The Foundation was also invited by the organizers of the PTCOs (Work-related learning experiences) for the Catania ST site to attend the orientation week in November 2021. The collaboration with the site and its volunteers was perceived as positive and inspiring. During the 5 day webinars, ST Foundation and ACRA offered, during e-meetings, testimonials that described their employee’ personal paths that led them to work with a multinational company like ST.
- 9 schools involved;
- 1,148 students reached.
In addition to the activities carried out with the ACRA Foundation, the organization also decided to collaborate with CIAI (Italian Center for the Aid to Children) for an initiative focused mainly on Sicily. The main goal of the #Tu6prof project was to contribute to creating an engaging e-platform that would assist teachers in developing a stimulating and interactive educational approach.
The e-platform, which was designed and donated by the Foundation to its partner, allowed CIAI to organize asynchronous and synchronous e-courses on Effective Digital Teaching and Innovative Approaches.
The Foundation also donated a fully equipped computer lab (with 20 laptops and a charging box) to the Rita Borsellino school in Palermo to complete the initiative’s effectiveness. This last step allowed teachers to continue teaching and students to pursue their learning journey. Initiative outputs:
- 186 registered users on the e-platform (mainly teachers and operators)
- 102 participants to the different courses
- The e-platform was also used to facilitate the open dialogue among 6 schools on topics such as distance learning, mixed teaching, and evaluation methodologies.
 According to the Demos survey, in Italy, adults and younger generations share the same widespread perception that in the near future, young people will have a worse social position than that of their parents. This pessimistic view was aggravated by the pandemic that fueled health and economic concerns for the so-called new suspended generations.
The #Weareallconnected principle was applied and reinforced throughout the year also in France. To further boost the local impact of the DU Program, Sarah Laurie was appointed as the French Country Leader. She joined the Foundation to contribute to the fight against the Digital Divide, strong of her long-standing understanding of the ST culture, thanks to the over 30 years spent in the ST sites of Grenoble and Crolles. Over one hundred PCs were donated in partnership with the French ST sites to various organizations throughout 2021. The goal of all the donations was to assist educational activities during a period in which access to the appropriate equipment was fundamental to guarantee progress and quality.
- In the first quarter 27 PCs were donated to La Garenne Highschool (in Voiron) and to la Varappe association (in Aubagne).
- In the third quarter 17 PCs were donated to Vercors Sciences (in Lans en Vercors) and to Grésifablab associations (in Crolles).
- In the last quarter 54 PCs were donated to CSC La Passerelle, les Parents d’Elèves indépendant de Montlouis associations, University of Grenoble and to Marie Curie Highschool.
- Throughout 2021, 34 PCs were donated to different two pre-schools and four associations
The Coding and Learning Project Formalization in Italy
The Save the Children study on the Digital Education Poverty carried out in Italy conveyed a frightening fact that was revealed by Covid-19. The analysis unveiled a huge digital gap across the country, severely affecting over one-third of Italian families between the first and the second lockdown. Students faced challenging obstacles in continuing their education, while teachers found themselves lost in dealing with technology. In such a context, the ST Foundation decided to contribute to bridging this gap, approving Giovanna Bottini’s proposal to initiate a new collaboration with Cremit (Research Center on Media Education, Innovation and Technology of the Catholic University of Milan). The initiative’s goal was to develop a project on coding, to implement the use of computational thinking while developing learning, operational and relational skills among students of primary and secondary schools. The proposal was finalized and approved in December 2021, and it will be implemented in the first half of 2022.
 More in detail according to Save the Children: Digital educational poverty is a state of deprivation. It’ the impossibility for young people to acquire the skills necessary to orient themselves in the world increasingly permeated by digital innovation”.
Core Courses Update for Online Teaching
The ST Foundation introduced the advanced courses as part of the available learning paths in 2018. In the fourth quarter of 2020, the organization initiated both an update and an upgrade of these courses. The course upgrade project involved Symbols, an Italian-based communication agency that worked on optimizing the contents for online teaching. The entire course package was finalized in the first semester of 2021, and it offers an in-depth overview of Microsoft Office for online learning. The course is currently available in English and Italian.
Revision of the ICB Course
Throughout 2021, based on the makeover of the advanced courses, the Foundation decided to create a task force to review and update its core course: i.e., the Introduction to Computer Basics (ICB). The ST volunteers from the Greater Noida site, collaborating with Santo Vanadia (Teaching Material Coordinator for the Foundation), and under Giovanna Bottani’s supervision, revised and updated the course contents. After completing this step, the Foundation teamed up again with Symbols to fully restyle the contents. The goal of this project was to update the communication style to increase the course’s online presentation effectiveness and efficiency. The expected finalization is the first quarter of 2022.
Tablet For Senior
The Foundation also reinforced its commitment to the elderly community throughout 2021 by helping them overcome their fears and uncertainties when dealing with technology. In July 2021, the first pilot project of the Tablet for Senior video courses was conducted in collaboration with Fondazione Casa Famiglia San Giuseppe in Vimercate, Italy.
The daycare center and the retirement home educators assisted us in teaching the first 24 “students” with an average age of 75 years. The experience was not only positive, but thanks to the collected feedback and comments received by the educators, the Foundation was also able to revise the course content.
In Q4, when restrictions allowed it, the T4S became an in-person course. The activity was managed by a small group of ST volunteers of the Agrate site, who tested the entire educational material in collaboration with AVULSS in the Agrate Brianza region.
The first experience was positive and inspirational. Once the pilot run is finished in January 2022, the contents will be reviewed and revised based on the participants’ comments and requests to offer a tailor-made content learning path. We expect to finalize the training material review by February 2022, and then we will extend this course to other organizations.
Finalization of the New eLearning Platform
The ST Foundation eLearning Platform was first created to support the #Weareallconnected project at the end of 2020. The tool was then fully released to host the three versions of Tablet for Senior mini-video courses during the year’s first quarter. The courses are currently available in Italian, English, and French.
- The ST Foundation communication activity
The ST Foundation and the ST Corporate External Communication team continued the collaboration for the writing of the 2020 Annual Report, presenting insights into the key moments that characterized the year’s activities.
In August 2021, Giovanna Bottani was invited to attend the Rimini Meeting. During this yearly event, political personalities, managers, representatives of different religions and cultures, intellectuals and artists, and athletes of the world scene gather to share their experiences and stories. In this context, Giovanna, as the Foundation’s senior operations consultant, participated at the round table dedicated to discussing “The roots of a new Leadership.” The participants were called to investigate the role of education in shaping future leaders capable of thinking and acting for the common good, particularly in developing countries in the post-pandemic era.
The Foundation organized the 6th edition of the Energy Run with the support of the ST volunteers and the ST Agrate Brianza site. On September 18, 2021, the event took place in the Aldo Moro Park of Agrate. Over 600 runners participated in this race full of obstacles and fun activities. The Foundation applauded the participants who animated the event while helping the organization raise funds to support all the initiatives for Italy.
- Fundraising & Networking Activities
The AICS project was continued without disruptions throughout 2021, despite the restrictions imposed by the pandemic. The two hubs in Senegal operated regularly, and therefore it was decided to further extend the educational offer by the advanced course’s introduction. On the other hand, in Guinea Bissau, the Foundation chose to limit the lab’s activities to the basic course offering due to the complex pandemic-related restrictions. The initiative will be closed in Q1 2022.
The Foundation’s collaboration with UNICEF in Sierra Leone was formalized through the signature of a convention with our operative arm in the country, i.e., Bridge the Digital Divide SL. The partnership was created to address the educational inequalities in this country. Sierra Leone’s statistical data shows that local children’s access to quality education, class attendance, and graduation remain alarming . In this context, it is vital to offer alternative educational paths to help out-of-school students acquire functional literacy to realize their full potential for sustainable livelihoods and economic empowerment.
The Foundation’s goal with this project, in association with its local partner, is to accelerate the empowerment of adolescent girls by providing the necessary and relevant digital skills. We aim to reach and support over 10,000 adolescent girls who will complete the ICB course throughout 2022. This first step will help the participants increase their future employability. Additionally, 1,500 girls out of all the participants will be chosen to complete the advanced courses for further digital skills development.
Online Data Reporting System.
The ST Foundation has been monitoring all of its activities in real-time by using its online reporting system since 2016. This allows the organization to monitor all educational initiatives carried out in the operational countries.
 Many children in Sierra Leone fail to complete primary school or to make the transition from primary to Junior Secondary School (JSS). Completion rates stand at primary: 64 %; lower secondary 44%; and upper secondary 22 %
The ST Foundation monitors its activities on a real-time basis using an online reporting system. In 2020 the existing tool was enriched and also improved with the possibility of organizing e-Learning activities.
Courses organized and students trained during 2021
The tool also allows the Foundation to know its target audience better by facilitating the personal data collection of the beneficiaries. Therefore, offering the possibility of not only a better understanding but also of a more targeted approach.
Example of statistics showing the age of the participants together with the occupation and level of education
The personal data is then completed by the information collected through a dedicated qualitative questionnaire that ICB students have to fill out at the end of their classes, after the final test.
Therefore, the organization can monitor students’ behavioral changes after attending the course through quantitative and qualitative data while decreasing its response time to new educational needs.
The 2021 results confirm a very positive feedback based on the survey answers, specifically:
- 92% of students would cascade what they have learned to family and friends.
- 92% of students would suggest to their friends to attend the course.
- 73% of the students are comfortable using a PC after attending the course.
Students who were not familiar with computers before attending the ICB classes, at the end of the 10 lessons, use their new skills to surf the Internet (79%); communicate with friends and use social media (75%); do easy calculations (70%) and write documents (70%). 58% of the beneficiaries use the newly acquired competencies to look for a job, confirming that digital skills can become a robust driver for employment empowerment.
|Not at all||Little||Moderate||Very much||Total|
|Looking for a job||19%||23%||39%||19%||100%|
|Write a resume||15%||24%||35%||26%||100%|
|Write a document||9%||21%||37%||33%||100%|
|Communicate/chatting with friends/social media||9%||16%||36%||39%||100%|
|Not at all||Little||Moderate||Very much||Total|
|I hesitate to use a computer for fear of making mistakes that I cannot correct||28%||26%||27%||19%||
|I feel comfortable to use computers||10%||17%||38%||35%||100%|
Policies and Procedures
The Foundation’s increasing activities development requires the organization to abide by certain policies and procedures and be very transparent in regards to the integrity of its operations. In this context, and as a result of Giovanna Bottani’s recommendation, the Board decided to collaborate with an Italian law firm to further investigate the Foundation’s priorities in terms of ad hoc policies to be adopted to meet the international expectations and guidelines. The first output of this extensive work was the Child Protection Policy formalization in December 2021.
- DU Pictures
|T4S Pilot run at Casa Famiglia San Giusppe, Vimercate Italy||On December 16, the Foundation donating 30 PCs to the Marie Curie high school in Echirolles (France)|
|Participants at the Energy Run||Example of T4K program on Wheels|