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UK Committed to mentoring Kenyan Girls in Science and technology

The United Kingdom (UK) is committed to promoting mentorship of girls from disadvantaged backgrounds in Kenya in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), as a way of preparing them for vital careers in energy, information technology and engineering sectors.

UK’s High Commissioner to Kenya Ms Jane Marriott said there is a need to scale up interventions aimed at entrenching the interest in STEM-oriented subjects at the primary and secondary levels of learning.

Kiriko Secondary School Teacher Peter Tabichi (Center) takes students through a chemistry lesson as British Envoy Ms Jane Marriott (Right) looks on. Ms Marriott said there is a need to scale up interventions aimed at entrenching the interest in STEM-oriented subjects at the primary and secondary levels of learning. Photo by Dennis Rasto

Speaking at Keriko Secondary School in Njoro Sub-County where she inaugurated an online exchange programme between the institution and Bishop Ullathorne Roman Catholic School in Coventry, England the envoy lauded Kenya for taking various conscious steps aimed at enhancing growth of STEM careers for men and women.

Ms Marriott stated that towards encouraging more women to take up STEM courses, institutions should establish role modeling and mentoring from early childhood to young adulthood.

She added “schools should be intentional in hiring and promotion of female teachers in STEM to help motivate young learners. We have to debunk the myth of STEM as difficult, boring courses. Young learners need to be engaged in a fun way, to help build their interest in the subjects from an early age. Continuous training of women teachers of STEM will also help build capacity for qualified females to deliver content professionally and competently.”

She said preparations were complete for the Global Education Summit which will be co-hosted by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and President Uhuru Kenyatta in July this year.

The summit is targeting to raise Shs530 billion for the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) to finance education for children from poor backgrounds across the globe.

Ms Marriott observed that in the past 5 years, Kenya had received Shs11 billion from GPE fund, part of which was used to develop Competence Based Curriculum.

She stated that online exchange programmes between schools in Kenya and the UK was one way of scaling interventions aimed at entrenching the interest in STEM-oriented subjects at the primary and secondary levels of learning.

Since the online twinning programme between schools in the two countries was inaugurated 14 years ago, 1,000 classrooms in Kenya have been incorporated in the initiative. Keriko Primary school in Njoro Sub-County was the first to benefit from the programme in 2007.

Bishop Ullathorne RC School was established in 1953 and in 2006 it was awarded specialist status as a Humanities College. The school whose current Head Teacher is Christopher Billing is named after William Bernard Ullathorne (1806-1889), the first Roman Catholic Bishop of Birmingham.

Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize winner Peter Tabichi who teaches Mathematics and Physics at the school said there is a need to organize more STEM competitions for female students at the sub-county, county and national levels to recognize outstanding females and inspire more girls to pursue STEM courses.

Mr Tabichi who bagged the Sh102 million ($1 million) award in 2019 noted that such competitions will also expose girls to trailblazers in the technology and science disciplines, further busting the myth that STEM-related disciplines are a reserve for boys.

He said representation of women in STEM careers is one powerful way to mentor those interested in pursuing similar careers.

The business community noted Mr Tabichi should encourage such women to take up roles that position them as mentors to future women in STEM.

By Anne Mwale and Catherine Karanja

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