Unlocking the Potential of Girls in SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, ENGINEERING and MATHEMATICS

    The UNESCO Scientific Camps of Excellence for Mentoring girls was initiated in Kenya in November 2014 and targets girls in year 1, 2 and 3 of their secondary level education. The programme aims to close the gender gap in science in Kenya by inspiring girls to embrace sciences through mentorship talks, laboratory demonstrations, linkages of the science subjects to STEM careers and showing their relevance to the day –to day life of an individual. The camps also seek to empower girls to think of solutions for the various problems in their country from scientific and engineering perspectives and emphasize the need for science clubs in schools to facilitate further mentorship and networking opportunities for the students.

    To assess the impact of the programme, UNESCO and partners have established an online system to track the performance of the mentored girls. The system is able to capture the universities to which the mentored students have been admitted as well as the courses.

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    Technological gaps will keep on growing between developed and developing countries as long as new approaches are not adopted in the teaching of STEM in primary and secondary schools. Most Kenyan secondary schools laboratories are ill- equipped for students to carry out experiments; thus they perceive sciences as dull, theoretical and abstract. They fail to relate what they are taught with its application in the real world. Science will remain an abstract pursuit to learners so long as they are not exposed to its real application in their daily lives. Technology will never be appropriate if students are not afforded means of contextualizing it –this should earnestly begin in our laboratories.

    - Prof. Shem Wandiga, Professor of Chemistry at the University of Nairobi

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