The 32nd Annual Conference of the Southern African Association for Research in Mathematics, Science and Technology Education (SAARMSTE) commenced in Windhoek, Namibia’s capital, Tuesday, aiming to provide a significant platform to address pressing challenges and foster innovative solutions.
Hosted by the International University of Management (IUM), featuring a theme “Rethinking Relevant Research in Mathematics, Science and Technology Education for the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR),” the three-day conference gathered around 400 delegates, experts, and stakeholders at the forefront of educational advancements.
Namibia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of International Relations and Cooperations Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah officially opened the conference, setting the stage for engaging discussions throughout the conference. Nandi-Ndaitwah emphasized the crucial role of educators and researchers in shaping the future of education, particularly in the rapidly advancing landscape of the 4IR.
“The traditional methods of teaching and researching in these fields are no longer sufficient. We must embrace a more interdisciplinary approach, one that fosters creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills,” she said, acknowledging the importance of STEM subjects — Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.
Addressing the challenges faced by the Southern African region in mathematics, science, and technology education, Nandi-Ndaitwah highlighted issues such as insufficient access to quality education, shortage of qualified teachers, and outdated curricula.
She stressed the necessity for comprehensive and systematic approaches, involving policy reforms, teachers’ training, and the strategic use of technology to bridge these gaps.
“Global collaboration must also be a key focus, aiming to facilitate partnerships and collaborations among institutions, researchers, and educators globally. This collaborative effort is designed to share knowledge and resources, establishing a framework for ongoing international cooperation to address common challenges in education,” she said.
Nandi-Ndaitwah also urged the conference participants to focus on evidence-based policy recommendations, continuous professional development for teachers, and strategies for attracting and retaining qualified educators in STEM fields.