By Rita Mwabonje
Women in Technical Education and Development (WITED) is an initiative seeking to foster participation of women in Science and Technology. WITED, a project conceptualised by the Commonwealth Association of Polytechnics in Africa (CAPA), sought to address the exceedingly low participation of women in science and technical education in its member institutions.
Kenya Coast National Polytechnic (KCNP) adopted the WITED initiative in March 2012. Through WITED, KCNP continues to reveal and demystifying the complex influences of the cultural, historical, economic, societal and gender-related reasons impeding female participation in technical education, training and employment.
The long-term objective of WITED is to enhance the participation of women in Technical Education at all levels for economic empowerment towards achievement of Kenya’s vision 2030. This broad objective is subdivided into the following specific objectives:
- Identifying the reasons why women/girls are not involved or have not ventured into science and technical courses.
- Making the community aware about the tremendous opportunities within the technical career path for women.
- Actively encouraging girls/women to develop the interest to pursue science and technical courses.
- Sensitizing women and girls on the benefits of pursuing the technical career path.
- Reaching out to less-privileged women in the informal sector with the aim of engaging them in technical career paths leading to economic empowerment.
Over the years, KCNP has continued to pursue WITED initiatives that reach out to girls/women such as:
- Actively participating in education for girls/women campaigns.
- Organizing and participating in awareness and sensitization forums for women leaders, policy makers, school heads and career teachers, men/husbands, parents/ guardians, female and male teachers with the goal of supporting girls and women’s enrolment in science and technical education.
- Collaboration with other technical institutions, government and non-governmental authorities/agencies/organizations in an effort to secure greater enrolment for women in technical training institutions.
- Advocating for non-traditional roles for women leveraging the power of mass media, internet and live campaigns.
- Advocating and lobbying for sponsorship and financial support of girls/women in science and technical courses.
- Advocating for tailor-made practical oriented courses/trades for girls/women.
- Mentoring girls/women who are already pursuing science and technical courses.
- Advocating for science and technical education by way of:
- Engagement of women in the informal sector face-to-face, via internet and mass media.
- Visits to schools, places of worship and social meetings encouraging and counselling women.
- Inviting girls to KCNP for career motivational talks and to interaction with role models.
- Participation in workshops for heads and career teachers of girls’ schools.
- Addressing teachers’ conferences to influence decisions.
- Production of career booklets for circulation to girls’ schools
Through the WITED initiative, Kenya Coast National Polytechnic has seen tremendous growth in enrolment of girls/women in science and technical courses. Currently, the Polytechnic has 121 female trainees in the Mechanical, Automotive and Marine Engineering Department, 107 female trainees in Electrical and Electronic Engineering, 139 female trainees in Building and Civil Engineering, 177 in Medical Sciences and 257 in Applied Sciences.
The Writer is a communication officer at Kenya Coast National Polytechnic College