Interswitch’s new InterswitchSPAK challenge aims to encourage STEM education in Kenya

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Electronic commerce and payments firm Interswitch has launched a marketing campaign to connect with young users across Kenya’s 47 counties to its products in a move expected to grow its reach and introduce itself to players in the education sector.

The competition, dubbed InterswitchSPAK, a partnership between the Ministry of Education, UNESCO and Interswitch, the competition gives secondary schools in the 47 counties a chance to nominate their best six Form 3 STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) students for the competition.

Targeting students aged between 15 and 18 years of age at the time of submission, the year-long programme targets to online-register at least 12,000 students across the country in a period of six weeks, followed by a national qualifying contest to be held in about 50 centers countrywide.

This will help to determine the best 54 students who will proceed to the next round and feature in the InterswitchSPAK Kenya 1.0 – National TV Quiz show to determine the top nine STEM students in Kenya.

The programme also includes a mentorship session (MasterClass) where top notch speakers will take turns to interact and share real-life experiences with the students thereby laying a foundation for a solid career in STEM fields for them.

The competition aims to encourage STEM education and entrepreneurship in the country. In February 2018, Interswitch unveiled its SPAK National Science Competition to do the same STEM thing in Nigeria, where it’s huge. Apart from the ‘switching’ infrastructure for banks and ATMs’, the firm runs Verve, a popular payment card in Nigeria and now in East Africa.

Interswitch also owns Quickteller, an online payments platform; Retailpay, a mobile business management platform; and Smartgov, an identity management and e-payment infrastructure for state governments and various other financial inclusion products good for the mass population such as mobile banking, SMS, airtime purchase among others.

Cherry Eromosele, Group Chief Product and Marketing Officer at Interswitch explained that InterswitchSPAK provides a platform that is preparing and empowering the future Africa problem solvers.

“These future scientists, we believe, will not only solve problems, they will build and sustain businesses that will grow the Kenyan and African economy at large,” she added.

The annual competition brings together students, parents, teachers and other key stakeholders in STEM education and its application in Kenya to help promote learning and entrepreneurship.

UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa representative Dr. Alice Ochanda said the competition will be of great help to high school students to chart the ideal career path and drive them towards fulfillment of their dreams either as an inventor or entrepreneur, thereby making Kenya and the world at large a better place to live in.

“InterswitchSPAK is a unique concept developed with a mix of education, technology and entertainment, to identify, promote and ignite the right support and reward for STEM students/ stakeholders in Africa,” she said. “This competition is very inspirational and the ultimate tool for enhancing participation of young people in STEM education and application.”