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STEM subjects outreach unveiled for JSS learners

The Centre for Mathematics, Science and Technology Education in Africa (CEMASTEA) has kicked off its second round of outreach and mentorship programme aimed at scaling up the uptake of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) related subjects by Junior Secondary School (JSS) learners.

According to the Special Programmes and Student Learning coordinator at CEMASTEA, Mrs Beatrice Macharia, the outreach which focuses on making the learning of STEM subjects more student-centred will remedy some of the stereotypes associated with mathematics and science subjects among learners at the very early stages of their academic life.

“The role of CEMASTEA is to work with the teachers to come up with innovative teaching and learning activities that can promote STEM education. At the same time, CEMASTEA works with the students through the STEM outreach programme to showcase STEM activities that enhance learners’ creativity and innovativeness in the way they do the science,” said Mrs Macharia.

Special Programmes and Student Learning coordinator noted the program will aid in the effective implementation of the Competence Based Curriculum (CBC).

Mrs Macharia said that whereas the country was gearing up for the Fourth Industrial Revolution which will rely heavily on science and technology, the percentage of students in the country pursuing STEM-related careers is very low.

To address the shortage, the coordinator says, the mentorship will inspire the current crop of JSS learners to take up the STEM Pathway once they transition to Senior Secondary School in 2026.

“Our focus this year is JSS because of the transition to the STEM pathway where we expect 60 per cent of the learners to take up the STEM pathway at the Senior Secondary Schools,” she said.

“We must therefore work extra hard to ensure that our JSS learners have interest in  STEM subjects at this level so that it will help them to take up STEM-related areas when they get to Senior School,” she added.

Mrs Macharia was speaking in Nyeri County during the first day of the outreach and mentorship programme at Ithenguri Primary and Junior Secondary School. During the session, the JSS learners and their teachers were taken through practical applications in the areas of Mathematics, Integrated Sciences and Technology with Mrs Macharia underscoring the need for improvisation as a means to enhance perception among the learners.

“We have been able to teach both the learners and the teachers to improvise some of the resources using locally available materials. So you can help the learners understand the concept without a big lab,” said Mrs Macharia.

Jecinta Kibebe, a Mathematics and Business Studies teacher at the school lauded the program which she said would aid in enhancing the learning experience for the learners.

Jecinta said; “I have realized that I can improvise the readily available material to be able to help my learners understand the concept.”

Her sentiments were echoed by Peter Wamaathai, an English and Literature teacher at Ihwagi Junior Secondary School in Mathira sub-county. For Wamathai the outreach has exposed him to innovative teaching strategies which he said will help in simplifying some of the concepts that learners find difficult to understand.

“CEMASTEA has brought a difference to what we normally teach and also they have exposed our learners to various fields in Science, Mathematics and Computers. In terms of Technology, we have been shown how we can use robotics to teach some of the concepts, maybe in Mathematics, Science or any other learning area,” he said.

In 2023, CEMASTEA piloted the programme in 21 schools in Nairobi, Machakos, Nakuru, Kisumu and Kakamega counties.

In Nyeri, the week-long exercise will be conducted in Ithenguri, Ihwagi, Muna-ini, Kiahuko and Ihururu Junior Secondary schools.

Besides Nyeri County, the centre is also targeting to reach a total of 25 schools in Kilifi, Uasin Gishu, Baringo and Garissa Counties.

By Wangari Mwangi and Wanjiru Ndiritu

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