The importance Tanzanians ought to attach to the study science subjects was underscored yet again mid-last week – this time from quarters one would be tempted to describe as rather unlikely.
Making remarks to that effect was Helge Lund, president and chief executive officer of Norwegian oil company Statoil ASA, as he addressed a news conference in Dar es Salaam on matters relating to the oil and gas industry, especially exploration and drilling.
He said his remarks were prompted by the fact that there was every indication of the existence of massive amounts of oil and natural gas, with the southern parts of the country boasting the most promising potential.
According to the Norwegian executive, there would be a big number of new employment opportunities for Tanzanians who had excelled in science subjects once the exploitation of the gas and oil reserves is fully operational.
We see the remarks as a timely reminder to all concerned, among them students and their teachers, tutors or lecturers as well as institutions of learning, all those officially categorized or even informally regarded as education authorities or stakeholders, and indeed the nation at large.
Not to be forgotten are parents and guardians, as the importance of the role they can play in orienting their children towards liking or disliking particular subjects at school, college or university cannot be overemphasized.
We view Lung’s advice as a “reminder” because we know for a fact that Tanzania’s own education policy places a premium on science subjects, and hence the favourable consideration science students get at the expense of most others in terms of government loans to students in institutions of higher learning.
Admittedly, this gesture has only done so much in inspiring our young men and women into doing science subjects at school and later pursuing careers in science and technology – medicine, engineering, etc. – many scared stiff thinking of how to tackle mathematics.
Be that as it may, we have no option but to heed the advice of the likes of Lund, who heads an international energy company with a proud presence in more than 30 countries and boasting a whole four decades of experience in the oil and gas industry.
It is also on record that the Norwegian firm has been candid and transparent enough to declare that it is determined to see at least 95 per cent of the job vacancies it has in store filled by Tanzanians, the only condition being that they be “well educated”.
But the firm has walked an extra mile by making impassioned appeals to local government leaders at district and regional level in Tanzania on the need to invest in the teaching and learning of science subjects.
Fortunately, it is not only through the national education policy that Tanzania demonstrates its commitment to ensuring that this vision is translated into concrete action.
As noted by a Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation official, some public and private institutions are already busy running public awareness campaigns on the importance of studying science subjects. This is as it should be – and should be encouraged.