A ZIMBABWEAN science teacher has won a prestigious youth leadership award that recognises the role played by young people around the globe in positively impacting the world.
The prestigious Cisco Youth Leadership Award, which carries a prize money of US$250,000 went to science teacher Mr Nkosana Butholenkosi Masuku. The awards ceremony was held in New York, United States on Thursday.
Mr Masuku founded Phenomtech-Sciency to make Science, Technology and Engineering (stem) accessible to rural learners. He enrolled at Hillside Teachers College in 2015, specialising in physics and chemistry and was employed as a science teacher by the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education at Lubhangwe Secondary in Matobo district, Matabeleland South Province.
“Sciency was started because when I was teaching in rural areas. I realised it was difficult for learners to comprehend practical science subjects. This was due to lack of [study] aid materials. The advantage of teaching them practicals in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (stem) is that it enables learners to retain their knowledge thereby reducing the dropout rates,” Mr Masuku said as he accepted the award in New York.
Mr Masuku is an alumnus of the Mandela Washington Fellowship. His award is part of Global Citizen’s effort to honour young leaders spearheading change through innovative means in their localities.
“Stem education is critical for opening doors of opportunity and Nkosana’s vital work utilising innovative technology to offer Stem learning to rural schools across Zimbabwe is transformative,’’ said Fran Katsoudas, a representative of Cisco.
“Investing in education reaps a lifetime of benefits, not only for children but also for their communities. The work of young leaders like Nkosana is helping to usher in a more inclusive future by empowering youth in Africa and around the world to thrive in the digital economy.
The world needs innovators who will courageously pursue positive change in their communities and inspire others to action through their ingenuity. It is an honour to recognise these inspirational, young changemakers who are advancing the fight to end extreme poverty,” said Global Citizen president Liza Henshaw.
Mr Masuku said as a former rural teacher, he was faced with a tough situation in which he was teaching secondary sciences without any models or apparatus as the school could not afford to buy them.
“Thousands of African schools have underfunded science labs, lacking the models required for applied science learning. They are often imported which makes them expensive. Learners can finish K12 secondary education without performing a single experiment due to a lack of science models and apparatus.
“It hurt me to see that 67 percent of learners were dropping out of their science subjects as they were being learnt theoretically. This is why I founded Sciency Learning, to inspire the next generation of stem professionals who can solve problems in the continent to increase our economic growth. I have three plus years of experience as a qualified stem teacher,” said Mr Masuku. -Additional reporting by SowetanLive- Sunday Mail