UNESCO Regional Director for Eastern Africa and Representative to Kenya Prof. Hubert Gijzen accompanied by Sam Partey a Program Specialist at UNESCO Regional office for Eastern Africa paid a courtesy call to the Director General for National Commission for Science Technology and Innovation Prof. Walter Oyawa on 13th October 2021 at the Commission’s headquarters. During the meeting, there were opportune discussions on possible areas of partnership and linkages regarding Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) in Kenya towards sustainable development.

The meeting discussed how UNESCO and NACOSTI can partner and collaborate to build a stronger relationship in the field of science and contribute towards sustainable development. Prof Gijzen explained that this would be achieved through various programs identifying their relationship to education, making science more attractive as a career, changing the image of science in schools by rolling out Education for Sustainable Development (ESD).

Figure 1: Prof. Hubert Gijzen UNESCO Regional Director for Eastern Africa and Representative to Kenya paid a courtesy call to the Director General, NACOSTI Prof. Walter Oyawa at the Commission’s headquarters on 13th October, 2021

ESD empowers learners with the knowledge, skills, values, and attitudes to address the interconnected global challenges including climate change, environmental degradation, loss of biodiversity, poverty and inequality, operationalizing science activities in schools and translating them into projects. Further, ESD aims at establishing Green Schools with a major focus in biodiversity, waster recycle, school gardening and enhancing teacher training to create a better understanding and interest in Science Technology and Innovation.

Prof. Gijzen further emphasized that UNESCO’s mission is focused on Climate Change and water, Environmental Science, formulating strong policies for science to bring solutions to programs. He looked forward for a stronger cooperation between NACOSTI and UNESCO focussing on STEM Education, Capacity building in STEM, Promoting Research and Development, establishing a linkage with TVETS, and possibly establish Green TVETs.

Prof. Oyawa welcomed UNESCO Regional Director for Eastern Africa and Representative NACOSTI and recognized the cordial relationship between UNESCO and NACOSTI in the promotion of Science, Technology, and Innovation. He briefly explained that NACOSTI is the chief regulator and promoter of Science, Technology, and Innovation. In this regard, the STI Act has specified 17 key functions for NACOSTI among them, research licensing, regulation of scientific research, advising the government in matters Science and technology, and developing National research priorities.

He highlighted that currently the Commission is involved in undertaking various activities & projects in promoting STI in the country among them STI Mainstreaming in Ministries and state departments, participating in the UNESCO’s GO-SPIN program to map national science, technology, and innovation (STI) landscapes and analysing STI policies and their implementation in Kenya.

The Commission also recently organized a Multi Sectoral Conference on STI involving various stakeholders and came up with 15 conference resolutions. He noted that the Commission had signed a Letter of Intent with UNESCO last year on various areas as initial priorities to build a strong partnership.

Figure 2: Prof.Hubert Gijzen receiving a gift bag from his host Prof.Walter Oyawa looking on Sam Partey, Program Specialist UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa

In concluding their first meeting, Prof. Oyawa and Prof. Gijzen agreed to review the contents of the Letter of intent signed a year ago between NACOSTI and the UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa to harness and build a strong partnership. It was agreed to turn the content of the Letter of Intent into a Joint Program of Action through identification of actionable activities with budget and timelines, seek partners and donors and how the joint program will impact Kenya.