According to the African Development Bank, less than 25% of African higher education students pursue STEM-related career fields. STEM stands for Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics, and it is arguably the most important field that would drive the socio-economic development of Africa quickly. The fact that only a few young Africans choose to pursue STEM-related career fields is a big issue. It potentially means that regardless of Africa’s talent pool, public and private institutions would have to source workers in those fields from outside of the continent consequently, leading to a limited domestic STEM workforce.
If we are to find solutions for economic and social issues Africa faces, we need to do better in encouraging young Africans to pursue STEM education, and teachers play a big part in this regard.
Why? Apparently, how students are taught mathematics, and other science subjects determine whether they love or hate them. “Most students don’t pursue STEM subjects because they think it is very difficult, but the perceived difficulties root from how they have been taught those subjects. If you teach the subject in a friendlier way, it becomes easier and attracts more students,” Diane Sengati.
So, it’s clear that investing in training well-rounded teachers and improving their pedagogy is the best way to increase the transition of African youth to tertiary STEM education. Consequently, through a partnership with the Mastercard Foundation, AIMS is running a five-year Teacher Training Program (TTP) in Cameroon and Rwanda whose goal is to build a sustainable pipeline of home-grown STEM talent in Africa. Through professional development courses, high-quality classroom resources and technology-driven Smart Classrooms, AIMS is raising the quality of teaching and learning mathematics. Collectively, 5006+ teachers have been trained through these programs so far.
Additionally, through the AIMS Schools Enrichment Centre (AIMSSEC) at AIMS South Africa, we provide outstanding professional development courses to mathematics teachers, subject advisers, and field trainers. AIMSSEC uses a blended learning approach to improve subject knowledge and empower teachers from disadvantaged rural and township communities.
Lastly, in November 2020, we launched the AIMS Master of Mathematical Sciences for Teachers (MMST) at our centre in Ghana. Delivered in a hybrid model (30% residential and 70% online), the program equips teachers with the requisite skills to understand and address the specific learning needs of female and male learners at the secondary level.
So, as we celebrate our teachers today, let’s also acknowledge the immense responsibility of empowering them, supporting them, and equipping them with the right skills and resources to teach our kids (boys and girls) the right way. AIMS remains determined to improve learning outcomes in mathematics for secondary school students and increase the number of girls and boys who pursue STEM education at the tertiary level.