In collaboration with other strategic partners, the Human Resource Development Council (HRDC) and Ministry of Basic Education (MoBE) hosted the 16th Regional Conference for Mathematics, Science and Technology Education in Africa (COMSTEDA 16) from the 5th – 9th November, 2019 in Maun Lodge. COMSTEDA provides a forum for educators to interrogate issues, share ideas, practices, and challenges relating to teaching and learning mathematics, science and technology in respective countries. This is undertaken with an aim to improve the quality of education and its related impact.

The Conference brought together educators, policy makers, researchers, teachers, NGOs, public & private sector stakeholders. The desire to increase Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education in Africa continues to grow as the demand for STEM skills to meet developmental challenges increase. COMSTEDA 16 focused on competencies and skills in STEM learning environment in relation to teacher professional growth resonating on issues of policy, teacher professional development, curriculum, and learner interactions for improved classroom practices.

Presenting during the Conference, HRDC Chief Operations Officer (COO), Mr. Meshack Tafa stated that in line with the changing global trends, the National Human Resource Development (NHRD) Plan has identified the need to incorporate the role of the Arts in STEM, hence changing to Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics- STEAM for short. “HRDC recognises the role of the Arts, which represents humanities, design and languages that are believed to be vital for the development of a STEM learner today, thereby promotes learners to create, research, present and arrive at conclusions," said Mr Tafa.

Mr Tafa emphasised that STEAM can bring together sciences such as engineering with other fields, e.g. social sciences and humanities to address economic and social challenges. He added that there is need to introduce STEAM curricula from pre-primary to tertiary education and incentivise girls and women to join STEAM fields to bridge existing gaps in the system.

In this regard, STEAM can be a catalyst towards our readiness for the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) and all the disruptive technologies. Mr Tafa informed the Conference attendants that Education is at the heart of preparing present and future generations to thrive. “As a result, it is vital that we have an education that develops human potential rather than pits it against machines” he added.

He concluded by noting that an education system designed for an industrial economy that is now being automated requires transformation from a system based on facts and procedures to one that actively applies that knowledge to collaborative problem solving. Governments, educators and parents alike must ask the question about how they can prepare present and future generations to thrive in this transforming world.

News Date: 
Saturday, November 9, 2019