Kitui Meets Young Scientists Kenya

Principal Secretary, Ministry of Education, Kevit Desai (right) and students from AIC Kyondoni Girls High School observe how a Lego Mindstorm EV3 Kit operates during BLAZE by Safaricom Young Scientists Kenya 2ND Edition Launch of the National Science Technology Exhibition in Kitui.

Young Scientists Kenya (YSK) has partnered with the Ministry of Education, the Embassy of Ireland and BLAZE by Safaricom, among other partners, to launch the 2nd edition of the National Science and Technology competition for secondary school students.

Modelled from the BT Young Scientists & Technology Exhibition in Ireland, Young Scientists Kenya aims to transform Kenya through innovation in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), and seeks to tap into the wealth of talent in secondary schools by making STEM subjects accessible to all.

A national high school STEM outreach programme targeting an average of 1500 students in each of the 47 counties will precede this year’s YSK National Science and Technology Exhibition, which will take place in August. The outreach programme will begin with 15 schools from Kitui, Machakos and Makueni counties this weekend before heading to Northern, Coast, Mount Kenya, Rift, Western and Nairobi regions between January and July 2019.

“The inaugural competition saw us visit 80 schools in 10 counties in 2018. This year, YSK is partnering with the Ministry of Education, the Centre for Mathematics, Science and technology Training in Africa (CEMASTEA), the National Commission for Science, Technology and Innovation (NACOSTI), the Embassy of Ireland and sponsors such as Safaricom, the Institute of Physics, Concern Worldwide and the French Embassy to scale up its outreach programme to reach 275 schools. This will help us meet our objective of making STEM accessible to students all over the country, even those in the arid and semi-arid lands,” said Prof. John Tony Scott, Co-Founder of the Irish Young Scientist and Technology initiative.

Last year’s exhibition saw 92 projects presented by 160 students during a two-day event held at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre in July. Wilson Irungu and Abdulrahman Sheikh Ali from Nakuru High School emerged the winners thanks to their revolutionary Internet-based energy monitoring and audit system concept, a victory that earned them a fully paid trip to showcase at the BT Young Scientists & Technology Exhibition in Ireland that ran between 9th to 12th January 2019.

“Last year’s entries gave us new insights and perspective on the endless possibilities we can explore to shatter myths about STEM subjects being tough, boring or inaccessible and give students platforms to exhibit their talents in STEM. President Uhuru Kenyatta’s directive to us to take the YSK outreach programme to all the 47 counties signaled the importance of STEM to our national development agenda, and we believe that the National Science and Technology Exhibition will birth ideas and innovations that will contribute significantly to Kenya’s economic growth,” said Dr. Amina Mohammed, Cabinet Secretary in the Ministry of Education.

“Last year we engaged about 10,000 students countrywide through the outreach programme, which gave us the opportunity to interact with innovations in four broad categories: Physical, Chemical and Mathematical Sciences; Ecological and Biological Sciences; Technology, and Social & Behavioral Sciences. By partnering with YSK, we want to empower the youth and give them the opportunity to create the technology-driven future we want for Kenya,” said Sylvia Mulinge, Chief Customer Officer – Safaricom.

Just like in 2018, the schools will build on their participation in the YSK National Science and Technology Exhibition to strengthen their relationship with the BT-Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition (BTYSTE), which has been held in Ireland for the last 55 years.

“The impact of the Young Scientists competition on Ireland in terms of developing a skilled, innovative and dynamic workforce cannot be downplayed, and has contributed to Ireland being one of the strongest economies in Europe. We would like to replicate these successes in Kenya because we have seen firsthand just how innovative young Kenyans are.” said Lisa Doherty, Chargé d’Affaires at the Irish Embassy in Kenya.

BLAZE By Safaricom has sponsored the high school outreach programme and national exhibition to a tune of over KES 45 million in cash and kind, as part of its commitment to investing in and empowering Kenya’s youth.