Fintech firm Interswitch has launched a competition christened InterswitchSPAK that will see Form 3 students in public and private schools with a special interest in Science and Mathematics compete with their fellow students across Kenya. Interswitch will conduct the competition in consultation with the Ministry of Education and UNESCO, although the firm is the primary sponsor of the event.
InterswitchSPAK will then award the winner a scholarship, KES 1.5 million, a laptop and signage for their institution. The second and third student will receive KES 750,000 and KES 150,000 respectively and a laptop each.
The competition will allow high schools to nominate six best Form 3 STEM students. The program aims to register more than 12,000 students from 47 counties for six weeks. Registrations will be done online. A qualifying contest will then be staged in 50 centres across the nation. The activity will help select the best 54 students who will then take part in the next round. It should be noted that the round will also feature InterswitchSPAK Kenya 1.0, a program that will be aired on national TV with a quiz that will select the best 9 students in the country.
Furthermore, the program will include a mentorship session where students will interact with notable speakers.
“The competition has been initiated amidst concerns that the quality of STEM education across Africa has steadily and gradually declined over the last few years. Research has blamed this on various challenges such as poverty, inadequate funding, lack of interest from students, unqualified/untrained teachers, inadequate learning aids and incessant strikes or industrial actions,” reads a statement from Interswitch.
“Research has it that in the next 10 -20 years most of the jobs available will have STEM integrated into them. So, for us at Interswitch, we began to ask the question: is Kenya ready for this, is the African continent ready for this? said Cherry Eromosele, Group Chief Product and Marketing Officer at Interswitch. “In answering this question, we realized that we must nurture and mold the students who are already studying STEM subjects, while also inspiring others to take up STEM subjects as they come of age.