GEMS young enterprise and leadership conference lays foundation for Africa's 21st century leaders

Thousand of miles away at Africa’s first GEMS school, GEMS Cambridge International School in Nairobi, groundwork is ongoing to mold future winners of the global teacher’s award if not Africa’s 21st century leaders.


The Global Teacher Prize award which will see an exceptional teacher who has been making outstanding contribution to teaching profession scoop a US $1 million prize award, only held yearly, is set for tonight.

The Global Teacher Prize is awarded by the Varkey Foundation under the patronage of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, United Arabs Emirates Vice President, Prime Minister, and Emir of Dubai.

Thousands of miles away at Africa’s first GEMS school, GEMS Cambridge International School Nairobi, groundwork is being laid to mold future winners of the global teacher’s award if not Africa’s 21st century leaders.

On March 3rd GEMS international school, Nairobi held the first GEMS Young Enterprise and Leadership Conference the themed 'Securing the Future of our young people though innovation.'

“Today you will see children presenting what they have created in that auditorium and they will  come up with different solutions and products and some will amaze you” Dr. Ernest Mureithi, the regional director and CEO of GEMS Education in Africa proudly said in his office meticulously decorated with jaw dropping art sourced from different parts of Africa.

He added: “It is the only one of its kind and we have invited a number of the school parents and mentors to come. T."

Centered on innovation, entrepreneurship and leadership, it was the perfect environment for GEMS 250 student teens aged between 14 and 18 to mingle and pick brains of some of the top industry players in Kenya and Africa.

The pioneer school in its true spirit of leading through innovation, sought an array of well qualified leaders from different industries to share their personal experiences and inspire the next African generation to challenge convention.

Tonee Ndungu, the startup winner of the 2013 GIST Tech-I competition and founder of NAILAB, Kenya’s first incubator which by the time he left the flourishing incubator he had had raised $5.5million for the company; was one of the speakers and gave a ‘reality check’ to the students and guest alike on why the future favored the bold, urging the ‘African Gems’ in Martin Luther’s spirit to dare and dream.

Munyutu Waigi, Co-Founder  and Chief Customer Officer Of Umati Capital and who also co-founded Rupu (Kenya’s largest e-commerce company) & Ringier Kenya in 2010; was at hand to give real life experience of how a small idea slowly rose to be nominated by Forbes Africa Magazine as Africa’s top 20 start-ups in 2012.

He finalized his memorable presentation by urging the ‘Millennials’ in the face of popularity contests and peer pressure to ‘fight the good battle, finish the race and keep the faith’.

GEMS education prides itself of pursuing excellence by going an extra mile to not only set high education standards but also nurture a culture of delivering everything to a high standard in their students.

GEMS is big on technology and run a number of ICT  based programmes in their school like the Lego Lab, which teaches children how to solve equations and how to solve problems using technology.

“We have a programme in Kampala called Puzzlemania, where we teach children mathematics using crossword puzzles, Jigsaw puzzles and chess and we make it fun that way and build it into the curriculum  but the idea is to teach children how to solve mathematical equations.”  Dr. Mureithi pointed out.

One of Kenya’s top rated media personality, Janet Mbugua and Kobi Ndungu, founder and CEO of Ibua Africa exceptionally presented tips on how to stand out from the crowd and consistently achieve high standards in whatever one sets their minds to.

Growing by learning, GEMS believes that each and every one of us has the capacity to lead and drive change; therefore banking on a rich heritage of more than 50 years they consistently preach to their staff and students that the only way to achieve success is to never stop learning.

“When you see young people 14 and 15 yr olds coming up with solutions that you and I as grownups are experiencing then you begin to realize that when you teach a child from a very young age how to think critically and how to solve problems, then you realize you can create a generation of problem solvers rather than people who are waiting for things to be done for them”.  Dr. Mureithi shared his nuggets of wisdom.

Majala Mlagui, a mining entrepreneur and founder of Thamani Gems, one of guest speakers suited the role perfectly on how to grow by learning by sharing her journey to create sustainable livehoods through responsible mining.  She is also a TED fellow and sits in the African Union Technical working group for the implementation of the Africa Mining Vision (AMV).

By creating an environment where GEMS students can compete and cooperate with some of the best minds in the world, the conference was a compliment of what the world-class school offers through one of their core values of Global citizenship.

GEMS Cambridge, Nairobi has a rich diversity; with about 85% of students being Kenyans and about 15 per cent hailing from various parts of the world, mostly African countries  with a few coming from middle east and Asia.

As the sun sets beyond the beautiful terrain of Nairobi National Park, located a few meters away from GEMS Cambridge, signaling an end to one of most life changing experiences in many to come for GEMS 21st century leaders.

So, as the world eagerly awaits to know who will be declared the 2017 global teacher winner; among the restless people waiting is Michael Wamaya, a Kenyan teacher from K.A.G School Kibera. He emerged to be among the top ten finalist. GEMS Young Enterprise and Leadership Conference is the first step in a journey of a thousand miles a future winner of the global teacher award or an industry leader took on a beautiful sunny day in Nairobi Kenya.

“if you look at the solutions coming out lately, the big ones they have been created by very young people so the solvers of problems are getting younger and younger every day and therefore we can no longer say we are going to wait until our kids are a certain age so that we can start teaching them how to solve problems No No not anymore.”  Dr. Mureithi said.

“So we know that if we teach our children critical thinking skills as well as problem solving that will not only serve them well in their day to day life but who knows, a few of them could use that skill to produce leading products and services to forever change the world; that is a life skill that cannot be measured or be stopped, this conference is the starter of that”.


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