East African Development Bank in partnership with the African-American Institute have invested in a $220,000 Stem scholarship to train public school teachers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Stem scholars, Kenya's Edward Mureka, Bernabas Wafula, Denish Akuom, Chris Mbae, and Uganda's Miriam Kabagorobya will pursue graduate degrees in these fields at Rutgers University in the US.
The five underwent a rigorous selection process that saw them emerge tops in a group of close to 300 other applicants.
They are university graduates having received First Class or Upper Second Class Honors Bachelor's degrees in Mathematics, Sciences or Engineering and have been working full time in public and government-owned educational institutions.
The Stem education programme is one of the initiatives launched by the EADB after careful study of the region and adopted the recommendations. There is emphasis by governments in the region in the past 20 years towards free primary education.
Science, Engineering and Technology is one area that the research pointed out was lagging behind in education investments.
"The Stem initiative, therefore, aims to maximise the impact of EADB's investment in the higher education sector by granting scholarships to accomplished lecturers who have agreed to return to their East African universities and continue teaching after they earn their graduate degrees. The fully-funded scholarships will provide full tuition, room and living expenses," said EADB director general, Vivienne Yeda.
The programme is in response to concerns that only 27 per cent of university students pursuing Science, Engineering and Technology-related careers in the region.
This is a challenge when attempting to propel the region into a middle-level knowledge-driven economy.
"While education remains a core responsibility of governments and their development partners, there have been various deliberate government policies to address the numerous challenges in education sector. Part of this is to encourage young people to participate. There is no single magic bullet to addressing the challenges except a concerted effort," said Ms Yeda.