IAU 2011 International ConferenceStrategies for Securing Equity in Access and Success in Higher Education Date: 16th - 18th November, 2011 at Kenyatta University Nairobi, Kenya
Higher Education, Women, Science,Technology, Mathematics (STEM)and Peace By Lucy Wandiri Mbirianjau SUPEVISORS: Prof Fatuma Chege and Dr. Ibrahim OandaDepartment of Educational Foundations, Kenyatta University, Nairobi, Kenya.
Most of the social conflicts that exist in the society,notably, acts of violence, have been linked to socialmarginalization and denial of access to basic needs.This leads to the scramble for, need to control meagerresources - natural and human-madeHence, most of the very poor countries or regions are theones which are embroiled in: conflicts, poverty, famine,diseases .To build peaceful society one must start with activities thatwill facilitate socio-economic development.
Education is a key aspect of human development, especiallyeducation in science and technology that serves as a tool forchange and progress.Application and the process used in acquiring scientificknowledge can influence: the socio-economic development,poverty reduction, communication and dialogues incommunities and the mindset that promotes peace.STEM brings in innovation in Agriculture, health etc thus apeaceful society.STEM disciplines are the critical driven courses.
Globally, women make up more than half of the populationand sadly, during conflicts, women and children are the majorvictims of war Women carry most of the responsibilities of reproduction,family maintenance and care.
They are givers and hold substantial amount of localtraditional knowledge in health, agriculture etc.They possess great potential and expertise that goesunutilizedTherefore, women’s access to higher education would notonly be seen as a pre-requisite for gender equality in societybut paramount to peaceful society. Their under representation in STEM makes their contributiontowards peace building insignificant
Engendering of the STEM disciplines in higher institutions of learning will therefore have the effect of an increased generation and development of the meager resources thus reducing conflict and therefore fostering a culture of peace. This will lead to more focused innovations in health, food security, civil stability in a manner that promotes more human understandingThe Millennium Development Goals: Goal 1 is the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger. Goal 3 deals with Promotion of gender equality and empower women.
Goals 4 and 5 concerned with reducing child mortality and improving maternal health. Goal 7 is concerned with ensuring environmental sustainability.Kenyan government launched Vision 2030 Guided by three-pillars(social, economic and political) which recognize Science, Technology and Innovation. Social, political and economic needs of society require scientific knowledge, skills and the right attitudes to deliver meaningful implementation that is pro-peace.
These are the hallmarks of economic recovery and growth, politicalmaturity as well as social cohesion and peaceful co-existence.Peace-building actions necessarily require inputs of science andtechnology to support innovation, economic growth and politicalmaturity for wellbeing of all citizens.Despite the positive developments and increased number of womeneducation, women participation imbalances still persist in science-based courses.Proportion of girls’ enrolment declines as they move up theeducational ladder (pyramidal)
Only 1/3 of all students enrolled at the universityare women.The scenario is worse in STEM disciplineswhere women are highly under represented.Equally, Women Faculty in STEM disciplines isalarmingly low-(role models)
They are: socio-cultural, socio-economic, pedagogical,political, curriculum and general female experiences inHEIn spite of considerable expansion in higher educationand affirmative actions implemented, gender and regionalimbalances have characterized and continue tocharacterize the development of higher education inKenya as in other African countries.
Worse still, majority of the few who access STEM disciplines notonly fail to complete but they also perform poorly as compared totheir male counterparts There is need therefore to come up with STEMinterventions/policies to arrest the situation. Limited access of female students in STEM disciplines limits theircontribution and utilization of knowledge critical to realizing a cultureof peace
For a peaceful society all stakeholders in education have a crucial role to play in increasing womens access, participation and success rates in STEM disciplines in Higher Education to tap their unexploited potential.Phd :Widening Female Participation in Science and Mathematics (STEM) Disciplines to Contribute to a Culture of Peace in Kenya