Strengthening of Mathematics and Science Education in Africa
SMASE-Africa
   

‘STEM education in africa: Why does it matter and where are we now?’

Published on September 13, 2021 Author(s) : Dr. Mercy Macharia & Mrs. Mary Sichangi

‘STEM Education, why does it matter. The importance of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education cannot be over emphasized. Innovations are largely derived from advances in STEM disciplines. To a great extent only innovation-driven growth has the potential to create value-added jobs and industries. Further, an increasing number of jobs at all levels require STEM knowledge. As a matter of fact, nations need an innovative STEM workforce to remain competitive in the 21st century.

The “big question” is, what is the status of STEM Education in Africa? Africa is faced with developmental challenges including adverse impact of climate change against a background of a rapidly increasing population estimated at 1.2 billion of which 42% are youth aged 15-24 years. The African continent has the largest youthful population in the world. As a matter of concern, without deliberate and concerted efforts to address continental challenges among them youth, especially unemployment, Africa faces the risk of continued instability and civil conflicts. Nonetheless, Africa has the potential to address these perennial problems by equipping its youth with requisite STEM skills. This will enable them become creative and innovative towards job creation for a prosperous Africa.

Otherwise, the current workforce in Africa are unable to fill even the existing STEM-based jobs due to lack of necessary knowledge, skills and perceptions. Therefore, African governments need to take decisive actions to revamp STEM education from basic to tertiary levels of the education system. In addition, reform curricula, institutionalize continuous teacher professional development and improve quality standards of STEM education. Look out for the next blog as we endeavour to answer the question, ‘what is limiting Africa in equipping its youth with relevant STEM skills?’

 

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