In Summary
  • Ms Anyango was selected from 12,000 nominations and applications from more than 140 countries.
  • Her nomination came as a result of years of hard work at Changamwe.
  • Though this school does not offer computer studies as a subject, Ms Anyango pushed for her students to learn coding.

She refers to her students as “my girls”.

Making girls choose and love science, technology, engineering and mathematics (Stem) and computer science is what Ms Linah Anyango strives for.

Now she has been named in the top 50 shortlist for the Sh100 million Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize 2020.

In its sixth year, the award is the largest prize of its kind and was won by Mr Peter Tabichi, a Kenyan, last year.

Ms Anyango was selected from 12,000 nominations and applications from more than 140 countries.

“Given access to tech resources and jobs, Kenyan children can be as successful as those in Silicon Valley,” Ms Anyango said.

GREAT WORK

“I am humbled and excited about this. It gives hope to Kenyan teachers and is a testament to the great work they do.”

However, unknown to many and even as the country celebrates her success, Ms Anyango is no longer a Teachers Service Commission (TSC) employee. She joined a private school in Nairobi three months ago.

“In September last year, I got an opportunity through the US embassy in Nairobi to undergo a six-week technology training in Texas,” Ms Anyango told the Saturday Nation.

“That was a life-changing moment as it would help advance my career. TSC declined to approve the training. I opted to resign.”

She had been a biology and chemistry teacher at Changamwe Secondary School for eight years by the time she tendered her resignation.

TECHNOLOGY
“The training was an eye-opener. It was about women in technology and I gained a lot from it,” she said.

“I was lucky to get a job at a private school in Nairobi in January. I love what I do and the girls in Mombasa.”

Her nomination came as a result of years of hard work at Changamwe.

Though this school does not offer computer studies as a subject, Ms Anyango pushed for her students to learn coding.

Being the head of the science department, she encouraged the students to think of computer science as a career.

During every school term, Ms Anyango put technology and engineering in her students’ hands to stimulate their interest.

One of the ways she did that was by asking them to use technology to solve problems their communities faced.

The girls’ confidence grew as the tasks increased in difficulty.

CREATE MOBILE APPS
Seeing the excitement she had created, the teacher encouraged them to create mobile apps.

“The apps they made include an alert that helps fight crime, ‘Book Net’ to link buyers with stores and ‘myfirstjob’ where one can contact artisans,” she said.

The experience gave them a glimpse of what their future may hold.

“The coding lessons led to an increase in the number of girls taking physics. In 2016, I had nine candidates taking physics in the KCSE examination and all were boys. In 2017, the number increased to 12. By last year, it shot up to 32 and more than half of these students were girls,” Ms Anyango said.

SCIENCE CONTEST
Her students were recognised in a nationwide science contest for producing bioethanol from vegetable leftovers.

Winnie John and Mercy Mwende were top in the Environment Science and Management category of the 2019 Kenya National Science and Engineering fair.
The girls also demonstrated their project to President Uhuru Kenyatta at the Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition. They later went to South Africa for a global competition.