HEA Presents Way Forward For STEM
The Higher Education Authority (HEA) has stated that the teaching of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) in Zambia should begin while students are very young in order to improve its equity, quality and relevance.
These remarks were made on Friday, 24th January, 2020, by HEA Director – Quality Assurance, Dr. Vitalicy Chifwepa, when he made a presentation before the Parliamentary Committee on Education, Science and Technology.
In his presentation which was responding to the Committee’s request of the Authority to speak to the teaching of STEM in Zambian schools, Dr. Chifwepa further outlined that there was a need to begin approaching STEM as a culture, not as content, in order to inculcate its importance in, not only, the pupils and teachers, but in the parents of the pupils and society at large.
Dr. Chifwepa further stated the need to incentivise STEM lecturers and teachers to retain them in colleges and schools.
“Therefore, there is need to conduct capacity building of teachers and lecturers in the new STEM pedagogical approaches in order to ensure quality provision of education,” he said. “This means that there is the need to develop mobile laboratories and STEM pedagogical approaches to ensure effective teaching and learning.”
The presentation by HEA further highlighted the major challenges in the promotion of STEM. These were stated to be the availability of resources in teacher training institutions and in schools, and the retention of STEM trainers in teacher training institutions and teachers in schools.
In analysing the adequacy and effectiveness of the policy and legal framework of teaching STEM in Zambia, Dr. Chifwepa noted that the three (3) policy measures under quality and relevance, access and participation, and equity and inclusiveness of the National Higher Education Policy had a bearing on STEM.
“These policy measures promote the learning of STEM and Enhance gender balance particularly in STEM programmes,” Dr. Chifwepa said.
In thanking the Director for the presentation, the Committee Chairperson, Honourable Mr. George Kingsley Mwamba, MP., noted the importance of HEA’s presentation as the Authority was a major player in higher education and the Committee needed its input to make an informed decision.
The role of the Committee on Education, Science and Technology is to carry out detailed scrutiny of certain activities being undertaken by the Ministries of Higher and General Education and make, if considered necessary, recommendations to the Government on the need to review certain policies and/or certain existing legislation.
To this end, as part of its programme of work for the Fourth Session of the Twelfth National Assembly, the Committee considered the teaching of STEM in Zambian schools as a topical issue and requested HEA’s submission in addressing the adequacy and effectiveness of the policy and legal framework governing STEM, the challenges of teaching STEM and the way forward in addressing these challenges.