Safaricom, UNESCO and Eneza Education partner to launch STEM digital programme in Kenya
Safaricom has announced that it is in partnership with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and Eneza Education to implement a digital mentorship programme for high school students interested in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). The new STEM Mentorship programme designed by UNESCO seeks to use technology to disseminate the necessary information on STEM to the students wherever they are in the country following the closure of schools as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The program uses the available online and media platforms to keep the students connected to STEM role models with the objective of inspiring young minds to embrace the beauty and power of science and be able to make informed career choices in the future. It aims to provide students with information on the different STEM fields – from the basic to applied sciences, the subject combination needed for admission into the different courses and the available employment opportunities for professionals in such fields. Learners will get a chance to engage with tutors through programs on local TV and community radio stations as well as through SMS via the shortcode 40291.
“We are implementing lessons picked during this COVID-19 pandemic to partner with other organizations to provide meaningful solutions for our customers via alternative channels. For this digital program, we are using our partnership with Eneza’s Shupavu 291 solution to give students access to mentors and information on STEM subjects via SMS”, said Peter Ndegwa, CEO, Safaricom.
The programme will involve mentors recording their voices to be aired through Kenya Broadcasting Cooperation, and over 40 radio stations. The recorded content will be translated for transmission in vernacular languages. To ensure a direct connection with the role models for continued mentorship, Safaricom has established an interactive short code-messaging platform – the “ASK A STEM MENTOR PLATFORM”, where students can send their questions on different areas and role models will decide on the most appropriate mode of response.
“We are happy to be part of this project leveraging our existing Ask a Teacher platform on Shupavu 291 to adapt the mentorship solution. We believe that this will keep students connected to STEM in the face of this global pandemic irrespective of their gender and socio-economic backgrounds,” said Wambura Kimunyu, CEO, Eneza Education.
The Director for UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa, Ms Ann Therese Ndong-Jatta highlighted the benefits of a role model in mentoring the students, and her experience in witnessing the impact of the mentorship camps on students and expressed her hope that Safaricom would support the creation of digital village resource centres to facilitate uptake of technology and access to such programmes by more students and even teachers and parents.
“Through this project, we hope learners will be able to nurture interest in STEM through the linkage between them and the role models in the STEM profession, through online interaction and the continual access to mentorship services,” said Mrs. Ann Therese Ndong-Jatta, Regional Director, UNESCO.
Statistics show that only 22% of all students who are enrolled in Kenyan universities are in STEM fields. The programme will run for a period of 11 weeks, however, the use of technology is expected to continue in the new normal.