ADEA held a webinar on the status of STEM Education in Secondary Schools in Africa

Photo: STEMpedia at Makerspace Ghana

On 24th February 2022, the Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA) through its Inter-Country Quality Node on Mathematics and Science Education (ICQN-MSE) and in collaboration with the Ministry of Education of Kenya, hosted a two-hour webinar on the Status of STEM Education in Secondary Schools in Africa with an attendance of 114 participants from 30 countries and partner organizations.

In his welcome remarks, Albert Nsengiyumva, ADEA’s Executive Secretary, thanked the Ministers present for creating time to attend the forum. He thanked Mastercard Foundation for funding the project and the Minister of Education Kenya for successfully coordinating the implementation of the study. He progressed to invite the Minister of Education – Kenya / leader of the ICQN-MSE represented by Dr. Sarah Ruto.

Dr Sara Ruto, Chief Administration Secretary of the Ministry of Education - Kenya, delivered the Key Note Address. She expressed gratitude and thanks to all the Ministers of Education, senior education officials, development partners and stakeholders for finding time to attend this important High-Level Policy makers Webinar on STEM Education organized by the ADEA ICQN-MSE. She reiterated the fact that Kenya is highly privileged to be part of the forum, for hosting the Inter-Country Quality Node (ICQN) and for the country being a key player in improving STEM education. She appreciated the efforts made by ADEA, especially in coordinating the STEM baseline and creating synergies between the public and private sector. 

She highlighted the need for organizing such events to facilitate experience sharing, and the desire for Kenya’s Ministry of education, as the leader of the ICQN-MSE to see a continent full of STEM-based experts undertaking innovative projects and initiatives to transform livelihoods. 

Dr. Ruto stated that the meeting was a wakeup call on the central role played by STEM education in transforming our societies to reach a global status, and encouraged everyone to work together and ensure that the quality of STEM education is improved.

She lauded the efforts of ADEA for spearheading policy dialogue forums on key issues affecting our respective countries in education, and especially the baseline survey undertaken as part of the report on status of STEM education in Africa. Dr. Ruto made the following recommendations :

  • African youth need to acquire STEM skills from a young age
  • The government should reinforce education policy reforms so as to create partnerships
  • In conclusion she proceeded to urge all members to be agents of change so as to achieve the Africa we want.

Brenda Nakazibwe, Program Coordinator of the Presidential Science Initiative on Epidemics (PRESIDE), representing the Minister for Science Technology and Innovation of Uganda, shared her viewpoint on STEM being aligned with national and regional developmental needs. She reiterated that through STEM education, learners are trained from any level to become critical and innovative thinkers, problem solvers, and ability to provide solutions to national poverty. 

She indicated that, “Knowledge belongs to humanity and is the torch that illuminates the world.” She raised the question of Africa being able to design its own version of STEM education with the appropriate infrastructure and mentors that shape the context and needs of the continent. 

Mary W. Sichangi, Coordinator, ADEA’s ICQN-MSE, presented the report on the Situational Analysis on the Status of STEM education at Secondary School level in Africa. The challenges identified in achieving quality STEM education, were indicated that; African countries have inadequate resources and facilities to support STEM education; poor teacher pedagogical practices with an inadequate number of teachers of STEM; and general lack of interest in STEM subjects among students. 

STEM forums are considered useful in improving the quality of STEM education as they improve teacher classroom practices; enhance the sharing of good practices; and enable strategies for improving student performance. The study recommended that; STEM education and curriculum design should be a priority in terms of review or reform, giving students the relevant skills that prepare them for employable and ready to meet the current labor demand. This is because, one in every three persons in Africa are living in poverty and the youth dividend contributes to about 42% of the population. The continent has a rapid growth rate with currently, around 11 million youth  joining the labor market annually.

The African Union has recognized that STEM education has the potential to develop the human capital, but unfortunately the youth joining the labor market is unable to take up STEM-based jobs and opportunities. ADEA is focusing on how the promotion of STEM education can play a critical role in transforming the 11 million youth and more, as they enter the job market equipped with the skills they need. 

Shem Bodo, ADEA’s Senior Programs Officer, made a presentation on the Monitoring and Evaluation Framework which was one of the deliverables from the study on status of STEM education at secondary school level in Africa. The overall objective of the M&E framework is to strengthen the capacity of African education systems for effective delivery of quality STEM education at the secondary school level in Africa.

Hon. Leela Devi Dookun-Luchoomun, Mauritius Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Education and Human Resources, Tertiary Education and Scientific Research, stated that STEM is at the heart of innovation and essential to national and continent’s development. She reiterated that Africa needs a critical mass of STEM professionals in order to contribute more actively and creatively in the fourth industrial revolution. In Mauritius the fact remains there is not only a poor uptake for science subjects such as chemistry, physics and biology currently standing at 20% of the upper secondary school level, but there is prevalence of gender differences in the enrollment in the STEM subjects. “We must have a relevant inclusive mathematics and science curriculum with a heavy dosage of hands-on non theoretical approaches that comprise a series of school-led activities like science competitions, all of which develop a scientific nature in learners ” she said.

Hon. Sarjoh Aziz Kamara, Sierra Leone Deputy Minister of Technical and Higher Education, stated that science education was recognized as the engine for sustainable development. Investments were made through the leadership of HE the President of Sierra Leone to allow children access  free education as a human capital development. In terms of STEM education, the Department of Science and Technology was established directly under the office of the President to ensure that science is mainstreamed within departments of ministries and agencies.

Hon. Gaspard Twagirayezu, Rwanda Minister of State in charge of Primary and Secondary Education, indicated the need to focus on teacher training and investment in STEM education in order to equip schools to deliver student-centered interventions in STEM in an equitable manner.

The meeting was closed by Albert Nsengiyumva, ADEA’s Executive Secretary, who thanked the participants in particular ministers of education for making time and sharing experiences in respective countries on the topic of STEM education. He encouraged regular advocacy and exchange of best practices between African countries. He further announced up-coming events of ADEA namely; the High-Level Policy Dialogue Forum (HLPDF) on Higher Education and Digitalization scheduled for 10th March, 2022, and the KIX observatory webinar on the impact of COVID-19 pandemic focusing on Teacher training and support, and learning assessment taking place on April, 2022.

Regular updates on the ICQN-MSE can be found here: