The Centre for Mathematics, Science and Technology Education in Africa (CEMASTEA) was established in 2004 to provide In-Service Education and Training (INSET) for mathematics and science teachers in Kenya and Africa.
The Centre was established to capitalise on the gains made under the Strengthening of Mathematics and Science in Secondary Education (SMASSE) that began in 1998 as a pilot INSET project.
The mandate of CEMASTEA is continuous Teacher Professional Development (TPD) in Mathematics and Science Education (TPD-MSE). The vision of the centre is excellence in Teacher Professional Development in Africa and the Mission is to transform teaching by continuously developing competencies for effective curriculum delivery and improved quality of education.
SMASSE programmes have since 2001 been spread to other African countries under the auspices of the Strengthening of Mathematics and Science in Secondary Education in Western, Eastern, Central and Southern Africa (SMASSE-WECSA) which has since 2014 been expanded to SMASE Africa.
The overarching strategy CEMASTEA adopted for pedagogical improvement has been the Activity-based, Student-centered, Experiments and Improvisation -ASEI realized through the continual improvement cycle of Plan, Do, See, Improve –PDSI.
In line with Kenya’s Vision 2030 of providing globally competitive quality education, training and research to her citizens for development and individual well-being, the Ministry of Education endeavours to improve the quality of education in Kenya. Thus, CEMASTEA carries out INSET for mathematics and science teachers at the basic level of education; develops innovative teaching approaches, conducts seminars and workshops for school leaders all funded by the Ministry of Education.
The purpose is to improve the quality of teaching mathematics and science education by enhancing pedagogical skills of teachers which in turn is expected to help young Kenyans in schools develop and acquire relevant core competences such as communication and collaboration, critical thinking and problem solving, creativity and imagination, citizenship, self- efficacy, digital literacy and learning to learn.
CEMASTEA’s training programmes are organized under Primary, Secondary, Partnerships, Linkages and international Training, ICT integration in teaching and learning and special training programmes.
The STEM field is greatly promoted as a career path for students in recent years, and the demand for individuals specializing in STEM disciplines is expected to rise.
One unique aspect of STEM is its role in helping to improve our well- being as individuals and society as a whole, not only through improvements in fields such as technology and medicine but also as a stimulus for promoting improvements in the community and beyond.
In spite of Kenya being a rapidly developing and industrializing nation that needs to bridge its skills-gap with respect to 21st Century skills, only 22 per cent of students undertaking university education pursue courses in STEM compared to 70 per cent of students in Asian Tigers such as South Korea and Singapore.
To cultivate attraction to STEM courses right from the lower levels of education, the Ministry of Education charged CEMASTEA with the responsibility of rolling out the STEM Model Schools intervention program. The programme was first launched on September 2, 2016.
The aim of the programme is to motivate and inspire students to excel in STEM subjects and pursue STEM-related courses in tertiary education, which is envisaged to address the existing need for workers in STEM-related careers in the country. The STEM program falls under the Special Programmes at CEMASTEA.
The CEMASTEA STEM Model Schools programme is in line with the Basic Education Curriculum Reform Framework (BECRF) by Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) which introduces science and technology as a learning area to enable learners to prepare for STEM pathway in subsequent levels of education cycle.
Currently, 102 schools have been selected and are being transformed into STEM Model Schools to be role models of STEM activities that can be replicated in other schools in the neighbourhood. To become a STEM Model School, each school is expected to progress through the four levels namely: Emerging, Developing, Accomplishing and Practicing.
CEMASTEA has started supporting the schools as they develop across the levels. Through the programme, schools have been supplied with teaching and learning equipment such as robotics kit, laptops, cathode ray oscilloscopes, LCD projectors, digital cameras, white-boards, light microscopes, among others.
The Principals and Chairpersons of the STEM school boards of management have also been sensitized. In addition, 306 teachers from schools have been trained per year since 2017.
CEMASTEA is working with the Ministry of Education to have the number of STEM model schools increased.