THE 2022 Russia-Zambia STEM-E Forum was successfully held with a new focus on modern technology transfer in mining and agriculture industries, reports *Francis Lungu* .
It was for the first time the Russia-Zambia STEM-E Forum which has been held annually in recent years had a presence of Russian industries exhibition.
The event that was held at Lusaka’s Mulungushi International Conference Center on November 29, was jointly organised by the Russian House, Ministry of Education and Ministry of Science and Technology.
Officiating at the event, Ministry of Education Permanent Secretary Joel Kamoko thanked the Federal Government of Russia for it’s continued support to Zambia’s education development especially in science related fields.
Mr Kamoko said Russian scholarships programmes for Zambian school leavers and graduates is a major stronghold in the Zambia-Russian bilateral relations.
This year alone, Russia awarded 140 scholarships to Zambian school leavers to go and study in different universities in that country.
The Permanent Secretary said 90 percent of these scholarships were for STEM-oriented disciplines
“On average 85 Zambians graduating from Russian universities in STEM careers [every year]. Russian scholarship programme is significant contribution to human capital development of Zambia,” Mr Kamoko said.
With such support from bilateral partners like Russia, Zambia now has a total of 52 STEM secondary schools spread across the 10 provinces.
According to Mr Kamoko, this has made it easier for candidates with strong background in STEM disciplines to excel in Russian universities under the scholarships.
He, however underscored the need for capacity building programmes for school teachers of STEM disciplines.
He suggested that the Federal Government of Russia should consider offering online seminars for STEM teachers as part of knowledge and expertise exchange programmes.
“There is need for more cooperation and exchange programmes between Zambian and Russian Institutions of higher learning. We need common research programmes in areas of mutual interest,” said Mr Kamoko.
Ministry of Science and Technology Permanent Secretary was represented by assistant director in the Department of Science, Mr John Chongo.
“We are happy with the collaboration with Russia in areas of science and technology. Number science [in particular] can be used in energy, agriculture and even in medicine. We are coming up with nuclear science programmes at the University of Zambia (UNZA) at post-graduate, Masters and PhD levels,” Mr Chongo said.
Russian House director Aleksandr Anisimov revealed that the Federal Government of Russia has increased scholarship slots from 140 for this year to 160 for the 2023 academic calendar.
And representing Russian industries, SEIES LCC commercial director, Mikhail Mikhailov, said high-tech companies from his country are interested in doing business in Zambia.
Mr Mikhailov said SEIES LCC is interested in technology transfer in the area of freezing and drying food products.
Apart from the exhibitions mounted by Russian industries, about 10 selected STEM schools also displayed different innovations.
The 2022 Russia-Zambia STEM-E Forum was segmented into four panels with different science focused points of discussion.
The first panel discussed Education: Challenges and Development Points.
This penal had discussants from the industrial partnerships of Russia represented by Dr Masamba Kah who is head of industrial-educational partnerships of the consortium of support universities of State Corporation ROSATOM.
Dr Kah made a virtual presentation and emphasised the importance of nuclear technology in meeting modern day needs in energy, medicine and agriculture.
Others on this panel were from Russian University of Transport, Ministry of Education, National Science Center, the University of Zambia and representatives from Chilanga Cement PLC.
The second panel of discussants talked about STEM + E ecosystem.
Experts for this topic came from the industrial partnerships of Russia, Zambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry, SEIES LLC, and an advisor to Ambassador of Business Russia to Zambia, Mr Kamo Babloyan.
Communication in Science, Technology and Education: How to communicate the future, was the topic for the third panel which comprised media and science communication experts.
The fourth panel during the 2022 Russia -Zambia STEM+E Forum discussed industries creating the future, with experts from the Ministry of Science and Technology and Zambia Manufacturers Association.
The push for science studies are in order to meet growing demands of digitalisation, technology and innovation for both national and global industrialisation.