KNATCOM hosts a Girl Student STEM-ICT Camp of Excellence
The Kenya National Commission of UNESCO in partnership with UNESCO Eastern Africa Regional Office; Ministry of Education, Kenya); The National Commission for Science, Technology and Innovation (NACOSTI); Intel and Microsoft recently hosted a STEM Camp for Students and Teachers in TumuTumu Girls’ High School, Karatina.
The 5-day “STEM/ICT Camp of Excellence: Closing the Digital Divide”, (27 June – 1 July 2023) brought together 135 girls from 21 from Kiambu, Murang’a, Kirinyaga, Nyeri, Nyandarua and Samburu Counties schools. The training sought to increase the uptake of STEM among secondary school Girls through nurturing and inspiration; mainstreaming of critical thinking and problem-solving mindset; knowledge sharing through mentors and peer-peer learning; provide hands-on experience on emerging technologies such as 3D printing, coding and robotics; and introduction to the 21st century jobs among others. The women mentors were drawn from climatology and climate change; human and animal medicine; pharmacology; marine and ocean sciences; engineering and technology; mathematics; physics; science and innovation; architecture and building sciences; earth sciences including geology; computer/innovation; AI experience sharing fields.
Happening concurrently at the same venue was the training of STEM Teachers in Gender Transformative STEM and Digital Skills Education Training. The teacher training brought together 52 teachers drawn from the 34 Counties. These interventions are meant to address under-representation of girls and women in STEM fields. According to a 2021 UNESCO science report, globally, women are minority in digital information technology, computing, physics, mathematics and engineering, representing only 22% of artificial intelligence professionals. 33% of the researchers are women, only 12% in academic of science and 2% in venture capital for tech women led startups. Cumulatively, the percentage of females studying engineering, manufacturing and construction or ICT is below 25% in over two-thirds of countries globally.
In his opening remarks, KNATCOM Ag. SG/CEO Dr. James Njogu emphasized the need to ensure equitable access of STEM education and careers for girls and women. He recognized that there is a growing demand for female professionals with STEM and digital skills, since these skills are critical in supporting the school to work transition through multiple and dynamic STEM career pathways. He commented the mentors for supporting this programme since inception in 2014 and the partners who have alongside KNATCOM coordinated this mentorship and capacity building programmes. He noted the support from UNESCO through the Intel Project, Ministry of Education, Teachers Service Commission, National Commission for Science Technology and Innovation challenging them to continue supporting this programme for sustainability and impact.
The mentorship debunked the myth that science courses were hard and a preserve of the male dominated gender; a perception that has resulted to girls less likely than boys to study STEM in higher education.
The STEM-ICT Camp of Excellence hosted in Karatina was the seventh annual physical STEM Girls Camp. It is envisaged that the trained teachers will translate their skills in the regions and schools including training other teachers and students.