President Uhuru Kenyatta today opened the 4th National Young Scientists Kenya (YSK) Science & Technology Exhibition. During his speech, he observed that STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) are all key enablers to the Big 4 Agenda as well as Kenya’s Vision 2030. All while equipping Kenyan youth with “21st-century skills that can spur the socio-economic development now and into the future.”
Since its inception in 2018, this event has tapped into the creative potential of 120,000 students. Not even the pandemic could put a damper on it. Describing the YSK event as “one of the most promising and important programmes in the education sector,” President Uhuru applauded how “it helps build a vibrant ecosystem for identifying inspiring and nurturing our young scientists.” Projects demonstrated a keen awareness of global and local problems that the young scientists addressed with their ingenuity.
This year, 214,000 students are presenting their projects. Inclusivity shines through with over 30 counties, rural and urban, the presence of both public and private schools, five special needs schools and more girls than boys are participating in the exhibition. “Showing our girls are equal to the challenge if only given the opportunity.”
This resulted from last year’s event where the President challenged YSK to ensure inclusivity. It includes a “leave no learner behind programme” to reach disadvantaged students all across the country. Reaching students in the rural areas was made more difficult thanks to COVID-19. A challenge that is being fed by the piloting of an education technology programme to provide STEM mentorship through mobile communication, SMS and USSD. “This is the resilience we all need if we are to overcome challenges that lie ahead of us.
In 2019, Uhuru directed all ministries, government departments and government agencies lend support and expertise to YSK. He reiterated this, appealing to all those involved to work collaboratively for the stability of YSK as a STEM enabler.
Earlier, in July this year, the President met with Simon Coveney, the Foreign Affairs Minister of Ireland where they discussed trade amongst other things as well as the continued partnership between YSK and Ireland.
At the time, Coveney said that “Cooperation through the Young Scientists Kenya (YSK) is also picking momentum and some of the members were able to come to Ireland and participate in some science events and competitions.” The pair acknowledged that YSK has been quite successful, reaffirming their collaborative commitment to YSK on both ends. “I would like to thank the government of Ireland for their support as well as leadership on this programme,” said Uhuru.
The top three winning projects from 2020 highlight teen spirit and their capacity for innovation and entrepreneurship that run deep.
- Keith Brian Maxwell Okoth and his teacher, Martin Onyango; Kanga High School, Migori, developed a sophisticated smart vigilance mobile supported domestic burglar alarm system. YSK linked him with Liquid Intelligent Technologies for mentorship, and he has been offered a full STEM degree scholarship from Strathmore University when he completes his secondary education next year.
- Brian Mwendwa and James Musau and their teacher, Salome Mbunu, St Martins Secondary School, Makueni. They created a timely environmentally conscious river filter system, which filters garbage, oil spills, and chemical foam resulting in cleaning our waters. Solagen Technologies has given them the Science for Development Award while also making an offer for mentorship.
- Purity Mauwau and Clinton Lundu and their teacher, Lowland Masalia from Rialo Mixed Secondary School, Vihiga. Demonstrating how STEM could trigger inclusivity, they developed an angle reading and drawing device for the visually impaired. An app that partners engineering and braille, it allows impaired students to read, and draw an angle in under 6o secs. They won the Innovative Project on STEM Inclusivity Award.