Statistics show that only 22% of students who are enrolled in Kenyan Universities are in STEM fields. That is Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. This is despite the huge role that these subjects play in our every-day lives, though it may not always be obvious especially if one is not necessarily on the look-out.
STEM touches on every part of our lives. Science is everywhere, say like lighting a fire or boiling a kettle of water. Or maybe the physics of aligning positives and negatives on your remote control battery? Engineering can range from something as simple as lighting up your house to enabling experts to come up with designs for roads, buildings, or huge industrial set-ups. Mathematics is in every industry and every work-place, market place and upwards to more complexities. Technology is wired into all these.
Education systems have been teaching these subjects alright. Just that they have not always been taken up in a deliberately meshed manner. And yet, they are the past, the present and the future. As the world gets more modern, STEM has a distinct advantage in the job market and more mentorship and encouragement is needed to encourage higher enrolment numbers.
Towards this, Safaricom, in partnership with UNESCO and Eneza Education are keen on implementing a digital mentorship programme for students who are interested in STEM. For wide reach, the 11 week programme will work through 40 community radio stations, a local TV station, and Eneza Education’s Shupavu291 which is a far reaching SMS based learning platform. Shupavu291 will leverage on their existing Ask a Teacher feature to adapt the mentorship solution. TV and radio will air the shows live, and students will be encouraged to send questions via SMS to 40291. The mentors and facilitators of the show will then send responses to each question as they engage the learners.
This is a great initiative to reach students of all economic backgrounds, equip them with knowledge to make informed career choices and break gender stereotypes about STEM. Not to mention that offering remote mentorship is a great way to continue doing important work even in the face of this global pandemic.