Study: Why learners perform poorly in mathematics, sciences

Pupil taking notes in a classroom. Lack of mentorship hinders the achievement of STEM education. [File, Standard]

Lack of proper school facilities and flimsy parental support has been fingered as part of the reason for poor performance in mathematics and science subjects.

A report by the Association for the Development of Education in Africa also outlined poor teacher pedagogical practices, inadequate number of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) teachers, students’ lack of interest, inadequate funding, rigid STEM curriculum, and lack of student mentorship as part of the challenges hindering achievement of STEM education.

The report is titled ‘Situational analysis on the status of stem education at secondary school level in Africa’ and was conducted in nine countries; Angola, Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Ghana and Morocco.

It involved 185 secondary school teachers, 65 principals, 36 education officers and 17 senior education officials at Headquarters. 

This comes as the country prepares for the rollout of Competency-Based Curriculum in secondary schools. The first cohort of CBC students is currently in Junior Secondary School, Grade 8, and will join senior secondary schools in 2026 for Grade 10.

At that level, the students will be required to choose the subjects they seek to focus on as part of specialisation for what they will seek to pursue later on.

On Wednesday, the Ministry of Education revealed that it projects to have about 60 per cent of CBC learners join the STEM pathway in senior secondary school.

If actualised, this means that about 600,000 students will join the STEM pathway when CBC finally reaches Senior secondary school in 2026.

“This will enable a more productive population that will be instrumental in the achievement of our vision 2030,” said Elijah Mungai, the director of scholarships at the Ministry of Education.

The survey indicated that more students are now taking up STEM-related subjects in secondary schools.

School Principals interviewed for the survey attributed the increase in enrollment in STEM subjects to increased awareness of STEM education. However, teachers who took the survey read from a different script observing that the increase in students pursuing STEM is as a result of an increase in school population.

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