What motivates parents to invest in secondary school education is the chance for their children to access better jobs and higher education. However, chronic poverty and regional conflicts have left secondary schools and teachers struggling to deliver quality education especially in those subjects and specialisations which are most in demand.
There is growing demand in the developing world for trained people in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields and business. Government and companies recognise that trained people to support health care, infrastructure, research and development are essential to moving forward as a country. At the same time, they are eager to support locally-grown corporations and businesses to provide jobs and grow their economy. All of this is occurring as East Africa is rapidly modernising, creating a world where ICT skills are a necessity for anyone looking for employment.
Currently, secondary schools and teachers aren’t well equipped to meet these demands and to provide their students with the quality of education that will give them access to scholarships, continued education and employment opportunities. Teachers are under-trained in these areas and schools lack the necessary learning resources to support students’ education.
AET aims to provide tools, training and hands-on opportunities for teachers and students to engage with these subjects and develop the skills that will help put them on the path to success.
AET supports students, teachers and potential employers to map and identify where gaps exist in student’s education, training and understanding of the relevance of education to their future job prospects. By identifying gaps, AET is able to work with educators and professionals to develop innovative and creative approaches that smooth students transition to higher education and the workforce. These range from improving science education through establishing mobile science-labs to bring improved equipment and lessons to under-resourced schools to explore e-learning opportunities. Or it could be improving hands-on computer experience through establishing extra-curricular clubs to deliver integrated ICT and business workshops. AET also seeks opportunities to link students to mentors across different industries and provide comprehensive career guidance.
AET works to pilot these initiatives with the aim of scaling up their use across school systems in the regions where we work.
AET is currently developing an integrated ICT, enterprise and career counselling programme working with eight schools in Northern Uganda. The BRITE Futures programme in Uganda includes developing and trialling ICT clubs and school enterprise challenges involving capacity-building and training of 16 teachers who are working with over 2,000 boys and 1,650 girls. It also has produced a career guidance manual and associated lesson material which is benefiting these same students.
AET aims to scale up this programme, providing access to secondary students across the Northern region. We also will be exploring integrated ICT and Science, Technology, Mathematics and Engineering (STEM) courses in the same region.
In Somaliland, mobile science libraries were able to reach 10 schools, they improved pass rates in science exams from 3.3% to 25% and students also showed increased interest in continuing in science-focused courses and careers jumping from 25% to 60%.
Girls face enormous struggles to continue their education and are often discouraged from pursuing sciences, maths and technology focused careers.
Encouraging and supporting girls, in particular, to pursue studies and careers in STEM and ICT is a central goal of the BRITE Futures programme.