Primary Education or elementary (pp1, pp2, grade 1-8) is the foundational level of all education systems. When a child joins school they are normally enthusiastic, optimistic, curious and eager to learn. During this early formative stage they develop into being independent and becomes self-conscious. They acquire basic life skills outside their home and start acquiring new knowledge, attitude and skills that help them become independent and have a chance to to be self-reliant.
At the primary school level it easy for adults (teachers & parents) to influence children’s attitudes and mould their character. However, they must be careful to identify their abilities, talents and engage them emotionally, provides them with opportunities to practice what they learn in a friendly manner. At this stage, when children are well handled it sets them into a virtuous cycle of learning, builds their confidence and self-worth. These attributes are important for their future development and growth into adulthood.
An area of concern among educationist in most developing countries like Kenya is the low mastery of mathematical and scientific skills at the primary level. Reports show that most Kenyan children who transit from primary to secondary lack of requisite mathematical and scientific skills to match the demands of those subjects in high school. Their ability to analyze, solve problems, think critically or apply concepts to real-life situations is still low.
Several reasons have been attributed to their low abilities among them lack of teaching resources, teacher content mastery, poor teaching methodology among others. One that is rarely mentioned is the lack of opportunities for the children to practice, create, build, invent or try out anything.
Teachers and parents are more focused on test scores and less on competencies. This explains the opprobrium experienced in the introduction of the new competency-based curriculum which emphasizes on providing children opportunities for them to not only acquire knowledge but skills and attitudes.
To improve children abilities in mathematics and science, as envisaged in the new curriculum, it is important to provide them with opportunities for them to do rather than memorize. There is a need to create a nexus between what happens in class and outside the class. This can be made possible through designing learning experiences both in and out of class programs. Unfortunately that more than four decades since independence Kenya does not have a science and mathematics competitions/fairs at the Primary school level.
As MUSPPA2STEM we believe the time is now ripe for the introduction of out of class programs to promote science and mathematics at the primary school level. Such programs are aimed at providing children opportunities for hands-on experience and linking the concepts taught in class to real-life applications. Through MUSPPA2STEM network the following programs will be conducted in primary schools