Close to 1,200 students drawn from four secondary schools in Machakos sub county will benefit from a mentorship and outreach programme for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects, courtesy of Centre for Mathematics, Science and Technology Education in Africa (CEMASTEA).
The Coordinator of Special Programmes and Student Learning at CEMASTEA Mrs. Beatrice Macharia said the four-day exercise that kicked off on Tuesday at Katoloni Secondary School is among programmes run by the state corporation to improve competencies in STEM education.
Others include capacity building of teachers on pedagogical content and knowledge in STEM education and ICT integration.
Speaking today at Katelembu Secondary School the coordinator of special programmes and student learning said the exercise will provide an opportunity to learners and teachers to interact with CEMASTEA trainers and benefit from STEM resources and activities at their respective schools.
“These activities are aimed at motivating learners to excel in STEM subjects and careers through school-based visits. In Machakos, we are conducting the outreach at Katoloni, Katelembu, Katheka Kai and Machakos Township secondary schools,” added Macharia.
She disclosed that the programme was piloted last year in September and has so far been conducted in Nairobi and Nakuru counties.
“Our target is Subcounty schools that may not be well equipped with STEM resources and facilities or schools that may not have an opportunity to visit our innovation hub at CEMASTEA,” noted the coordinator.
Mrs Macharia said that through the initiative, CEMASTEA has been able to identify gaps in STEM education concepts that will be addressed during training of the teachers. “The gaps that we are identifying will guide the preparation of modules that are used to train STEM teachers,” she added.
During the outreach, CEMASTEA trainers use models and hands on experiments or demonstrations that simplify concepts in STEM subjects making it easier for learners to understand.
Mr George Kiruja, a national teacher trainer at CEMASTEA speaking at the same event said the experiments help students relate the concepts they learn to real life experiences.
“We are encouraging students to relate what they learn in class and what they see in the environment as a way to broaden their understanding and competencies in STEM subjects,” said Kiruja.
Ms Flanzie Angatia, a Physics and Chemistry teacher at Katoloni Secondary School, hailed the programme as an interactive and a fun learning approach that captivates the interest of learners in STEM subjects.
“With these experiments and practicals, the students develop more interest in the subjects because they can see what they have been taught in class,” said Angatia. She also noted the outreach programme will go a long way in demystifying concepts in STEM subjects and change the attitude of learners.
“Many students see STEM as a very abstract concept, but through such exhibitions the learners are able to relate what they are being taught through improvisation and use of materials that are available locally,” noted the physics and chemistry teacher.
The Principal Katoloni Secondary School Mr Francis Ndimu also lauded the programme and expressed optimism that performance of STEM subjects will improve. He said the outreach has enabled the students to think critically and see STEM subjects from a very different perspective.
“This is one of the best approaches to STEM education. I want to thank CEMASTEA for considering our school in their pilot phase and would wish such activities be done on a regular basis,” said the principal.
By Roselyne Kavoo