Educators stress the need to promote STEM and ICT

Little is being done to promote STEM and ICT education in the country, educators have said.

The educators were speaking during a STEM event on Tuesday in Nairobi.

They said the government needs to partner with the private sector to address challenges in the ICT and STEM spaces.

Some of these challenges include inaccessibility to basic education, device and infrastructure gap in ICT and STEM and lack of sufficient capacity training.

Others included internet connectivity and lack of adequate access to educational digital content.

Lamuka Hub Kilifi chief executive Twahir Kassim urged the government to uphold the free basic education policy.

“We need to take education seriously, we cannot be saying it is free when it’s not,” Kassim said.

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He said in most rural areas in Kilifi, some children lack birth certificates which means that they are not documented.

“These children who are undocumented cannot be registered in the NEMIS system because the government will only fund those in the system,” he said.

Kassim said it is impossible to depend on the private sector alone when it came to these spaces.

“If the government gives Sh35 to a child in school with 1,000 children that makes a total of Sh35,000 yet we have connected 15 schools to the proper internet connection at Sh5,000. If all they are given is Sh35,000, how can you expect schools to be consistent with payment for the internet connection?” he asked.

Young Scientists Kenya’s head of programmes Vanessa Inziani said teachers have limited access to skill training in STEM learning.

“There are cases where in some schools, the students know more than their teachers,” she said.

 “If the teachers are skilled in these areas, the students gain more confidence in what they are taught by their teachers.”

Centre for ICT Integration Bungoma CEO David Butita said teachers need to be STEM and ICT savvy.

“As we integrate ICT, we are more concerned about digital skills. A teacher who is well conversant with technology will happily want to use it while teaching,” Butita said.

He also said that digital use is still a problem in schools.

Having worked with more than 600 schools Inziani said there needs to be sufficient access to computers by students all over the country.

“Partnering with donors to make sure that every child can access a computer is not enough. We need government support,” she said.

“Companies like Liquid Intelligent Technologies have been able to do their best in terms of connecting schools in areas like the Western region.

“More needs to be done to ensure there is adequate internet reach so that educational information and content are easily available. Access to EdTech will fill the gap of lack of information.”

Angaza Elimu CEO Kiko Muuo said the government and private sector players need to start linking academia to the job industry.

“Our students need to actively interact and practice what they are taught in class,” Muuo said.

“They need to feel their ideas they have in STEM and ICT are appreciated and supported. They can in turn be commercialised and we will no longer be facing the challenge of lack of jobs.”

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