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Outreach Program Makes Inroads in Teaching of Mathematics and Science in Schools

The Ministry of Education’s Centre for Mathematics, Science and Technology Education in Africa (CEMASTEA) has supplied robotic kits to 103 Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) model schools to promote digital literacy among young learners.

CEMASTEA has also rolled out an outreach program designed to enhance STEM learners’ critical thinking, creativity, innovativeness and problem-solving skills through utilization of locally available materials that teachers can readily improvise.

The coordinator of the outreach program Mrs. Beatrice Macharia said using robotic kits in teaching STEM was not only easy but also made learning fun.

She said robotic kits make students work in logical and effective ways that foster scientific reasoning and critical thinking, which may not be guaranteed in theoretical learning.

Mrs. Macharia made the remarks at the end of a four-day CEMASTEA’s outreach program that held at Keriko, Njoro Day, Larmudiac and Mau Narok Secondary Schools all within Njoro Sub-County. During the outreach, students and their teachers were trained on coding, robotics, digital literacy and Scratch block-based programming language.

Trainers from CEMASTEA further trained the participants on various aspects revolving around climate change, Information Communication Technology (ICT), applied mathematics and chemistry.

Mrs. Macharia said the focus of the outreach program was on school improvement through a positive STEM ecosystem in facilitating good practices among teachers and in enhancing retention and continuity of female students in STEM subjects.

“The key emphasis is on ensuring STEM teaching and learning is student-centered. We want learners to develop their critical thinking skills and collaborate in teamwork building which are the desired 21st century skills needed in future STEM careers,” the coordinator indicated.

Mrs. Macharia disclosed that the outreach program which is scheduled to cover five counties is also being used to identify gaps that were in the learning of Stem subjects.

“We are able to identify gaps that learners have and this will be used in training of Stem teachers because we shall input them in our module,” the coordinator further added.

To cultivate attraction to STEM courses right from the lower levels of education, the Ministry of Education charged CEMASTEA with the responsibility of rolling out the STEM Model Schools intervention program which was first launched on September 2, 2016.

According to the coordinator, many students are not conversant with the vast array of careers and hobbies that exist in science. Additionally, many students, she opined, face challenges in science subjects due to negative perceptions, hence the need for outreach programs by CEMASTEA to debunk such beliefs.

She added, “At CEMASTEA we are aware of the importance of the role we play in championing STEM by supporting education and mentorship programmes. Teachers play a key role in encouraging or discouraging students from taking up science subjects in secondary school.”

Mrs. Macharia observed that in order to achieve the intended middle level economy Kenya must take urgent and decisive action to encourage the uptake of STEM subjects from an early age by motivating and mentoring students in their endeavor to pursue the STEM related careers.

CEMASTEA’s National Trainer in charge of Coding Mr. Martin Mungai indicated that coding was a critical skill that can enable every household to actively participate in the digital economy and participate in creating virtual jobs.

According to Mr Mungai, mastery of coding will help learners to think differently, be more creative, grasp mathematics easily and be collaborative.  He added that it will accord them valuable life skills and prepare them for work.

“We need to know how to grow our technology from primary school. You have heard about coding that is now going to be part of our curriculum to ensure technology becomes part of our journey from primary school all the way to university,” the National Trainer said.


He pointed out that promoting coding in schools exposes young learners to technology and creates a path to a new world of innovation and creativity.

“Coding is really key in the CBC curriculum and in the world we live in today. We are now looking at virtual reality, machine learning and even artificial intelligence. The world is moving away from computers to automation, engineering and robotics. People want to automate systems so that they can operate with minimal manpower.”

He also emphasized the importance of Scratch as a creative learning tool in coding that is very experimental.

“The Scratch coding programming experience allows young people to build on their passions and interests as they get a chance to learn new things about themselves and the world,” Mr. Mungai said.

Scratch is the first block-based programming language that was created by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and released in 2007. It is a free programming tool for children aged 8-16 that enables them to create animations, games, music and interactive stories. It’s also an online community where children can share their projects and collaborate with one another.

Charity Maina, a teacher at Larmudiac secondary school, admitted that there was a negative perception towards technical subjects but was optimistic that the new approach will give better results.

“As a mathematics and Physics teacher, girls always tell me the subjects are hard, which is not the case. Teachers should be trained and empowered to teach these subjects in a way that makes them attractive. We must find ways of changing this attitude,” said Maina.

She stated other strategies specific for motivating female learners and improving their self-perception should include use of role models and vibrant career guidance.

By Jane Ngugi and Dennis Rasto

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