The Government of Kenya has today launched Young Scientist Kenya (YSK) in collaboration with the Embassy of Ireland and BLAZE youth platform by Safaricom.
YSK, a unique platform in East Africa for young people across Kenya to demonstrate and showcase their scientific talents, is based on the British Telecom Young Scientist and Technologist Exhibitions (BT – YTSE) of Ireland founded in the 1960s by Dr. Tony Scott and the late Fr. Tom Burke.
BLAZE by Safaricom will offer YSK support to mobilize and enroll students in Kenya for the pilot phase to be held in 10 counties over the next one year before it is rolled out as a national program.
This will be in line with BLAZE movement’s goal of empowering Kenya’s youth. The youth product by Safaricom already has mentorship and boot camp programs across the country.
“This platform will help us achieve BLAZE’s drive to inspire youth in following their passions and also change the perception among our young people that science, technology, engineering, and math are tough. It goes right with our theme of toughness and G.R.I.T (greatness requires internal toughness),” said Charles Kare, Head of Segments – Safaricom.
The Ministry of Education has for the last 53 years coordinated the Secondary Schools Science Congress, now known as the Kenya Science and Engineering Fair (KSEF) as the only science co-curriculum activity for Kenyan schools in the country.
“I’m very excited about this new initiative. Helping students to excel in science will directly impact on Kenya’s social and economic development. It will ultimately help young people to improve their skills, get jobs and contribute to achieving Vision 2030 targets,” said Dr. Fred Matiang’i, Cabinet Secretary Education
In order to leverage the efforts that have been inculcated through KSEF, the YSK model aims at complementing the Kenya Science and Engineering Fair, other inter-schools competitions in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). It will build upon and have formal links with the successful Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition which has been held in Ireland for the last 55 years.
“In Ireland, the Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition has hugely contributed to the uptake of science in secondary schools and the quality of its teaching. I have no doubt that similar benefits will occur in Kenya as a result of the launch of YSK. Ireland remains committed to supporting this initiative to ensure its success,” said Dr. Vincent O’Neill, Irish Ambassador to Kenya.
YSK will advance the learning of science in secondary schools by providing key links between secondary schools and tertiary level institutions.
“I’m delighted to witness the expansion of the Young Scientists concept beyond Ireland to Kenya and Tanzania. I have every confidence that Young Scientists Kenya will assist in transforming Kenya and allow young people to positively contribute to social and economic development in the country,” said YSTE co – founder Professor John Tony Scott.
The winners of the competition will be invited to engage with interested private sector companies and to participate in international science and technology events.
Supported by the Kenyan Government, BLAZE, and the Irish Government, Young Scientists Kenya will be overseen by an independent Management Board and provide substantial rewards for students who win prizes in each of the competition categories.