25 November 2019
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Hi, my name is Chikondi Shaba
NEF Ambassador – Malawi
Chikondi Shaba is an Analytical Chemist, and a Lecturer in the Department of Chemistry at University of Malawi. She is the Next Einstein Forum (NEF) Ambassador for Malawi for 2017- 2019 and a 2019 IVLP Alumni under the project “Advancing Women in STEAM fields”. She is also co-founder of the Girls in STEAM Network based in Malawi that aims to provide youth with an opportunity to explore the STEAM fields, maximize their academic capacity, and instill principles of inquiry, action and critical thinking. Her research interests are in My research interest is in the determination of emerging pollutants especially through use of Mass spectrometry and other instrumentation methods which result in a method that is sensitive, selective, and both time and cost effective and has done work on GC-MS and LC-MS analysis of selected antibiotics in wastewater. She has been engaged in groundwater studies in an international research project called Hidden Crisis: “Unlocking of the Ground Water Potential for the Poor” (UPGro).
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT SCIENCE IN Malawi
Malawi attained its independence in 1964, and since then the Malawi Government has been concerned with addressing various development issues and Malawians aspire to have a science and technology-driven economy. The Malawi Government recognised the importance of science and technology (S&T) and observed that Research and Development (R&D) and scientific and technological services are a source of momentum for developed and adopted the national science and technology policy by 1991. Then again from January 1996, the Malawi Vision 2020 document, a national long-term development perspective for Malawi was developed. According to the document, this would be characterized by improved science and technology education, training and culture; increased commercialization of research and development (R&D); adaptation and promotion of new and emerging technologies; promotion of environmentally sound technologies; existence of effective science and technology (S&T); and increased implementation and use of information technology. Gender mainstreaming is also being promoted, where there is high activism in support of Young Women and Adolescent Girls in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) with some winning prestigious prizes and awards. Women in STEM fields have a critical role to play in pushing the bar on gender equality, one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The problem of gender inequalities in accessing education, like in other countries, has persisted in Malawi for several years, and severely limits women from achieving their potential and effectively contributing to development challenges. Completion rate for secondary school for girls in primary and secondary education remains low, historic exclusion of pregnant girls from continuing with education, attitudes that reinforce girls’ traditional roles. In addition to this, the generally low performance of girls in the sciences places them at a great disadvantage in terms of competing for recognition in STEM fields. Over the past two years, Malawi has had the privilege of successfully hosting the Next Einstein Forum (NEF) Africa Science Week (ASW). With the theme, “Igniting the power of science” the ASW aims to increase the awareness and understanding of the role of science, technology and innovation in everyday life and our future. We have planned activities for four different stages: early years, secondary, tertiary and the professionals! Additional motivation stems from the ripple effect from the 2018 ASW activities that resulted in three additional replications with each event supported by FHI360, US Embassy Boys and girls club, and Plan international, all in collaboration with Girls in STEAM Network. So even though the ASW lasts a week, the youth are still engaged with our STEM resources with the support from ASW sponsors and other interested parties. This 2019 ASW brings together several institutions and professionals.