PODCAST: Season 1 Ep 2 🎙️🎙️🎙️

13 October 2022 Categories: latest news, Mazungumzo Podcasts, News

Empowering children and youth to be agents of change through science communication

Link to the full episode: https://www.tcc-africa.org/category/mazungumzo-podcasts/  | Listen on Anchor FM

Podcast Summary

Former TCC Africa trainee, Mr. Kenneth Monjero fondly known as Dr. Fun, shares how his passion for science communication has inspired his academic journey and led him to promote the accessibility of science and scientific innovations to better the lives of children and youth in Africa through his organization, Fun & Education Global Network. Fun & Education Global Network seeks to improve lives globally through interactive learning experiences, sharing information, mentorship, and teamwork to better the lives of children, teens, and youth.

Kenneth Monjero is a biotechnologist working with Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO Biotech). He is also the Lead of KALRO Children Science Centre and a former TCC Africa trainee and postgraduate in Crop Science from the University of Nairobi. He is well known globally by students as Dr. Fun as he comes up with ingenious ways for making children between 5 -18 years appreciate the beauty and importance of science.


Welcome to Mazungumzo – African Scholarly Conversations, a podcast that highlights the perspectives of various stakeholders in academia and research fields across Africa through open dialogue or ‘Mazungumzo’ on scholarly communication in Africa.

We are joined by an expansive list of African policymakers, science communication specialists, innovators, and tertiary institution leads who contribute to this realm of science communication.

This week’s guest has walked quite a great distance figuratively, to what he is today. Our guest is Kenneth Monjero, Founder and Pioneer of Fun & Education Global Network.

Kenneth Monjero is a biotechnologist working with Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO Biotech). He is also the Lead  of KALRO Children Science Centre  and a former TCC Africa  trainee and postgraduate in Crop Science from the University of Nairobi He is well known globally by students as Dr. Fun as he comes up with ingenious ways for making children between 5 -18 years appreciate the beauty and importance of science.

Welcome to the programme Kenneth!

Kenneth Monjero: Thank you so much, Joy. I’m so glad to be here, and I’m so humbled to join you on such kind of a noble task of reaching out through this program.

Joy Owango: Karibu Sana! Now, could you tell us a bit about your background and how you became involved in scholarly communication?

Kenneth Monjero: Yes, this is a very hearty topic in terms of specialty in the times that we are living in, in terms of a young person upcoming all the way from primary school, high school. And I came also from a compromised background with high population and low knowledge in terms of education. So most of our family members never went beyond class eight, my cousins and all that. But due to my passion to see how education had changed the world, we used to see people flying up there in the air on aeroplane and say, those are the ones who went to school. So it really motivated me to really progress and proceed and aspire to not only just reach form four, but to go to university and also be among those who are bringing changes in terms of research. And I would also say that when I came to science communication, it’s because I realized that there are many scientists but no one to communicate their science. And it always bothered me to ask, should scientists become journalists or should journalists become scientists? Because for us to bridge the gap between industry and education and to increase the uptake of science career, we really need to communicate what are the relevance, what is the relevance of science in our society? So that kind of part of engagement, public participation in science was really a big missing link. And I’m so glad that I came across TCC because it’s through you guys, through your training, and it was amazing to know how even to communicate because I never knew that I knew how to do research. But now I’m so passionate that I know how to package that research and tailor it to suitability to the non-scientific audience.

Joy Owango: Thank you so much for the kind words. And I’m glad that TCC Africa has been part of your journey when it comes to disseminating research. Now, you came up with the concept of Fun and Education Global Network. Tell us what inspired you to create the Fun and Education Global Network and what need did you feel that needed to be addressed?

Kenneth Monjero: Thank you. Thank you for that question. My main, aspiration in my academic journey, and more so in my research, the research that we’ve been doing together with other scientists has been to see how to repackage the information and get it out there. And when I went for studies in science communication on how to engage the public, trans-disciplinary research in terms of engaging the public. And when I say the public, I’m really talking about adults who are in non-scientific fields with science. So then later on, I came to realize it’s not a matter of engaging the public. The main, main key point to attract majority or multitude into science careers, should start all the way from children, from early education, basic education. And now with my passion being a Sunday school teacher, I wanted to see how children interact with scientists. And I think I had a long time observing these through. You know, when primary school kids line up to visit a lab and you look at their high closing, yeah, we have arrived, we are here. And they’re really like amazed by their arrival to a research institution. But when they just walk in the labs, you realize when they meet the scientists, everything changes. Why? Because they don’t connect with the scientists. Due to how the scientists package the information, the scientists were not repackaging the scientific content to suitability to these young learners. They were actually passing their scientific information directly as packaged within the scientific domain and delivering it to these learners. So it’s just like jargon. And that’s one, I realized that the learners are not connected with the scientists.

Number two is there was no fun. They walk from lab to lab. You’re being shown which equipment, which machines, what kind of work goes on, how many publications have been done there so far? And you realize that this learners are like just walking through. So it was not interactive, it was not attractive. And that’s how I thought, how can we engage learners into fun and education?, so that they’re not just having fun, but they are learning, hey are attracted because young learners, you cannot attract them by just being serious on science. And that’s why when you tell children, can you draw a scientist? They will draw somebody. One, who is old and somebody who is in a lab coat, and then someone who is very serious. They won’t draw a young person very active or joyous and all that, why? Because they’ve just seen science is boring. So that’s one thing that provokes me to start founding Fun and Education Global Network. But of course the other thing is learners learning in isolation. So if you go to any school, teachers know there is no interest and all that, even if there is a quite limited. So that’s also what provokes too. How can learners learn and do projects across and engage of course, scientists and all that. In a nutshell, that’s what provoked us.

Joy Owango: Oh fantastic. Now, what have been the highlight of the Fun and Education Global Network?

Kenneth Monjero: Yes, what I would say is indeed Fun and Education Global Network is a special of its kind. One we have managed within. It was started just in 2021 during the covid in terms of we managed to go to Italy with learners and teachers and we have also managed to take them to South Africa and such and Botswana. So I would say we’ve had to touch teachers, learners and parents. And I believe you know about CBC; Competence Based Curriculum, it’s really advocating to engage learners, cutting across, parents are involved, teachers are involved and the learners themselves. So when we see the joy on the face of parents having travelled with the learners and also their joy by teachers because most of the teachers, I mean, they never believe even when they go out of the country, leave alone, even out of Africa, just going flying, taking flight I think maybe someone should look into how many teachers have actually boarded an aeroplane. You’ll find very few. And yet these are the potential learners who can do research and all that at that young level is because our assumption is these learners, we need them to be leaders of tomorrow, but we forget that they are leaders today and tomorrow. So I would say those are key highlights. And apart from that we’ve been able to run to establish Science Club in schools and it might be an assumption that there are able schools, you know, high ranking or high level schools that have all these that we are talking about. No, it’s not that way. You find that some of those schools don’t have practicals that are tailored to fun and learning. So we’ve had to engage quite a number of schools. We’ve gone also to marginalized areas as far as Baringo, Turkana and all that to really engage learners. So we are not only looking at schools in able areas like Nairobi also, but we are going also to marginalized areas and indeed what we live there in terms of capacity development and utilization of local resources to do science is just amazing.

Joy Owango: So in this whole process, how has Open science supported you in the dissemination of research and working with children in making them appreciate the beauty and the importance of science?

Kenneth Monjero: Open science is the way to go. I would start by that because, one is that, the way I’m talking about learners learning in isolation. There has also been those kinds of isolation within the research fraternity because there are scientist, institutions that have been doing research in isolation. Isolation might not really be that no one comes to your lab or so, but whatever you publish is restricted. So you realize that now you’re not sharing unless otherwise another organization signs up and such. So Open Science has really given us, one is sharing of content without those kinds of limitations as well as interactiveness with the a pro scientists and also scientific content. So I would say this has been the way to go. Because you see, like for instance, if you go online, you’ll get lots of information and if you don’t have a way of sieving that information, then you might end up doing the wrong thing and then wasting resources. But with Open Science in terms of especially open access publications and all that, it’s really made the work in an easier way because we can access reliable content, especially you know, science rides on facts and not fiction and this is a way to get all those facts. And then also it reduces issues of repeating what has been done or what is being done elsewhere. So we learn from each other and we engage. And I would say a lot of content that is tailored to science communication have really gotten from various open source journals and such kind of platforms. And despite that, apart from that, you see TCC has also come up with how can we bring these scientists together to work together, to know each other. So this is the best way of getting access to the network across the world.

Joy Owango: Fantastic. Thanks for that important comment on how Open Science is also supporting science communication, particularly with the young audience that you’re targeting. So with that said, and done. What would you say are the ways in which the Fun and Education Global Network has promoted access to scientific innovation in Kenya and perhaps in the continent?

Kenneth Monjero: Yeah, I think that’s very true. I would say that we have really supported innovation and not only supporting innovation, but actually finding where that the innovation is and this innovator, because we normally say you cannot appreciate innovation unless otherwise you also link with the innovator themselves. So I would say especially in marginalized areas, there are schools in marginalized areas that you might not or most of other stakeholders are looking at innovation don’t reach to. And also maybe an assumption that a well up school has more innovation than schools in marginalized areas. But we have gone to these schools and raised their curiosity, that’s one and number two, changed their attitudes because most of these learners, even if they are in the same system, it’s a Kenyan system and all that. And these disparities also even occur even at the university level. And colleges, someone says I’m from this college, it’s better than this college. So you realize those disparities kind of reduce the morale of these students to innovation. So we have really changed that mindset. And then we have also engaged these learners to really think a design thinking approach in terms of solving Kenyan problems, because we are the ones who really face the situation and all that. And these learners in various schools have such a wonderful opportunity because a student in Turkana might be facing a very different challenge than a student in Nairobi. So looking at that environment and tailoring that design thinking and coming up with innovative approaches or products that can actually suit the region has really been one of our observations.

The other thing is linking these schools to other schools across the globe, developed countries, developing countries in all parameters, they also share the innovations they have. And you realize that this awakens other learners to think, oh no. So I was thinking of this and this. And when they bring those kinds of innovations on board, maybe you might find that what was affecting them is the issue of resources in terms of finances. Now we can be able to give them a pathway to connect with other schools and they support the same innovation. And of course, working with the other stakeholders, the way I’m saying TCC as well as other organization that could really fund or support such kind of innovations, to bring them to speed in terms of product development or patenting and such kind of thing.

Joy Owango: So with the great work that you’re doing, how can people and organizations support your work?

Kenneth Monjero: Yes, what I would say is for sustainability or as we’re looking at the SDGs, the only way to realize all these SDGs or various strategies towards even feeding the population, the 2050 population that we are talking about is rising. We’re talking about reduced levels of employment, absorption in the industry, white collar jobs and all that. So what I’m looking at is every institution should have support of children or young people should be part and parcel of their strategy. And that is the way we can that’s the way it’s said. Like when we are looking at innovation or when we are looking at uptick of STEM careers or in whatever way, the best way is to start early as possible. So when we engage them, because even like the industry has been complaining that they are not getting the skilled personnel from the university, while the universities are saying we are training every year, we have graduates lined up for the industry. So how can we bridge the gap and ensure that the industry is getting the right product in terms of human resource as well as universities have a feeding system to the industry. So the best way is to start early and impact them with the skills. And I highly appreciate because now there is competence based education system and if we work together with the industry, then we are able to shape the younger generation. Not for tomorrow only but also for today, because now the world is looking at how can we engage in our high school students for internships, for attachments and such. So it’s no longer like waiting for university and then now you have done a specialization. It’s going to start as early as a high school level. So I would say the best way is to support especially marginalized areas, because, like now, when we are going to marginalized areas, those schools cannot be able to support the science materials and such kind of engagement. It’s very hard. And yet there are other schools that can support other schools. And I always advocate for this because you find, like, a school having bust of land and they’re doing nothing about it. And there’s another school that’s waiting for food and donation. Why not use this school to supply to the needy school in the neighborhood? So those are the things that I say, if we work together, then we’ll have a better today and tomorrow.

Joy Owango: Thank you so much, Kenneth. Thank you for the passion that you have for helping children understand and appreciate science. I really wish you the best with the fun education global network. And truly thank you. And I truly thank you for making time to join our podcast.

Kenneth Monjero: Thank you so much, TCC, for what you’re doing. Keep it up. You have the right platform, and behind the right platform, you are the right drive for this.

Joy Owango:  Thank you for joining us in today’s episode of Mazungumzo podcast. See you in our next episode.


Listen to the full episode and explore more episodes from the Mazungumzo podcast on the following platforms:


Spotify(Available Globally): https://open.spotify.com/episode/3rJFtUG4GdWcqC6bhvIMFr?si=8d04b29b8065491d

Anchor FM (Available Globally): https://anchor.fm/mazungumzo—african-scholarly-conversations/episodes/Ep2–Empowering-children-and-youth-to-be-agents-of-change-through-science-communication-e1p6ipf

Afripods (Available in Africa): https://afripods.africa/podcast/426e65f3-2c86-4c95-99af-a7ac9de09584

Stitcher (Available Globally): https://www.stitcher.com/show/mazungumzo—african-scholarly-conversations






Sign Up for the Latest Updates


The Training Centre in Communication (TCC Africa) is the first award-winning African-based training centre to teach effective communication skills to scientists.


University of Nairobi, School of Biological Sciences, Chiromo Campus, Gecaga Institute Building.

+254 020 808 6820
+254 020 2697401
+254 733 792316


Skip to content