Days before pupils sit the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education, scientists warn that too few students specialise in physics in high school and mathematics at the university.
They warn that Kenya could be sliding into a serious shortage of scholars in basic sciences, unless the government injects more funding into the area.
“The government must invest more and develop curriculums which encourage the young generation to take up basic sciences,” argues Tom Kariuki, the director of the Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa at the Nairobi based Africa Academy of Sciences (AAS).
If more funding is invested in basic sciences, Kenya could claim a place in the world as the future innovation hub for applied products and services, says Kariuki.
“Simple innovations like MPesa have already placed Kenya on the world map. We need policy makers to make the connection between investment in basic sciences and innovation for tomorrow and the future,” he said.
Nigeria and Congo Brazzaville lead Africa in funding scientific research and development, but the Ministry of Education Science and Technology, confirm that Kenya is soon to make its first move to fund basic sciences through AAS.
AAS first raised the concerns during its recent conference in Nairobi that was attended by Mauritious president Ameenah Gurib.
“In Kenya there are about 1,000 academics who hold PhDs,” observed Education Cabinet Secretary Jacob Kaimenyi. “The government will make a financial contribution to AAS so that our researchers can achieve academic excellence in basic sciences.”
According to the latest UWEZO report, Kenya’s primary schools score better in numeracy and literacy tests compared to the rest of East Africa, but the performance is still wanting.