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Strengthening STEM curricula for girls in Africa, Asia and the Pacific

As the UNESCO’s global Centre of Excellence in Curriculum, the International Bureau of Education (IBE) will collaborate with Malaysian expertise to strengthen STEM curricula, teacher education and assessment for girls and women in Cambodia, Kenya, Nigeria, and Vietnam.

Acquiring knowledge about science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) is not only a basic human right, but also a critical condition for sustainable development and participatory citizenship. Women’s engagement in science and technology not only stimulates innovation, but also benefits their domestic and community work —agriculture, cooking, water, sanitation and healthcare—. However, across the world, statistics show relatively low levels of female participation in STEM throughout schooling and employment. In Africa, Asia and the Pacific, women comprise only 33% and 18% of researchers, respectively. In this area, the success of Malaysia is salient: in the country, women constitute more than half of the student population in higher education for technology, and high percentages of the professional ICTs sector.

As the UNESCO’s global Centre of Excellence in Curriculum, the International Bureau of Education (IBE) will collaborate with Malaysian expertise to strengthen STEM curricula, teacher education and assessment for girls and women in Cambodia, Kenya, Nigeria, and Vietnam.

The Role of Curriculum and the IBE

Gender-inclusive STEM curricula that are consciously designed are critical to inspire needed change in mindsets, cultures, policies and practices across societies and to foster female engagement with STEM, by:

  • Emphasizing the practical, social, environmental and global objectives of STEM;
  • Transforming pedagogy to allow for hands-on engagement of students, self-learning and collaboration;
  • Making available a repertoire of practices across gender, race, culture and social dimensions.

As the global and technical leader in curriculum design and development, the International Bureau of Education (UNESCO IBE) is exceptionally positioned to help Member States operationalize gender responsive STEM and ICT policies through the curriculum.

The target groups and beneficiaries of the project are curriculum developers/specialists; national policymakers; teacher educators; teachers; administrators; inspectors; school leaders; academics and research communities; parents; community-based educational providers; NGOs; national media outlets; and other partners specializing in STEM education in Cambodia, Kenya, Nigeria, and Vietnam. A total of 50 direct beneficiaries are expected from each country.

The project will be implemented across four main phases of activities through a highly contextualized approach, but guided by a framework that promotes South-South cooperation through knowledge sharing across countries and regions. At the end of each year, a participatory evaluation of the project will be conducted. In its Phase II, the project will be scaled up regionally. Greater focus will also be placed upon gender mainstreaming through teacher education, the development of teacher training modules, and capacity development for the implementation of gender-responsive curricula.

Senior Programme Specialist

Mr Renato OPERTTI