STEM: Applying physics skills to transform lives

15Dec 2018
Aisia Rweyemamu
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
STEM: Applying physics skills to transform lives

FOR countries to develop their own science base, they need a supply of scientifically qualified people, meaning that education is a natural priority.

Chang’ombe Secondary School students Jamila Hamisi (R), Salome Richard (C) and Mariam Omary take part in a discussion during a workshop hosted by IOP under the STEM programme in Dar es Salaam recently. PHOTO: By Guardian Correspondent

The British-based Institute of Physics (IOP) has been working in the country to ensure it encourages and equip students with physics know-how so they can solve local problems through science applications.

IOP support improves science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills in Africa by strengthening national systems and contributing to national plans that will build a skilled workforce and stimulate economic growth.

Through the programme, IOP looks to challenge the obstacles to physics education in some of the poorest countries in the world.

“Our purpose is to gather, inspire, guide, represent and celebrate all who share a passion for physics. In our role as a charity, we’re here to ensure that physics delivers on its exceptional potential to benefit society,” IOP's international officer Linsey Clark said.

The institute is implementing the programme under the project dubbed ‘the future STEM business leaders.’

Students in various schools who are undertaking the programme and perform well win a technical training scholarship for six weeks.

Among schools that emerged top in the 2018 competition include Baobao, Jangwani, Temeke and Changombe secondary schools.

The training aims to alter a teacher’s approach by encouraging them to let students take the lead in their own learning by focusing on practical work.

 “Through this, students will discover opportunities beyond the scope of traditional pathways, develop their business knowledge and how it can be applied to their education and broaden their skills prospects,” Clark said.

She said the programme began with a partnership with the physics department at the University of Dar es Salaam and has grown to include the Dar Teknohama Business Incubator (DTBi) and several other businesses and secondary schools in the country.

According to her, the programme expects to enable science students to increase their understanding of the pervasiveness of physics in their daily lives while at the same time linking science with business to support their future career choices.

Jamila Hamisi is among the beneficiaries of the programme from Changombe Secondary School. She says the programme helped her in developing her business with her colleagues.

“Previously we thought physics is all about labs. The training has really opened our eyes and we can now use the knowledge from the subject in business as well as in addressing social challenges,” she says.


The beneficiaries of the training from various secondary schools said if used effectively, physics may transform people’s life and stimulate development in a society.


Sayuni Mwamanenge, a business mentor said Tanzania was the first country selected for the pilot study of the project and that the project has enabled science subjects to learn through practical and transform physics into money.

The programme begins in the second to last year of secondary school with an open call for ideas, to pitch a science-based solution to a local problem.

In the long run the programme makes a difference by training local teachers to enhance their subject knowledge and their practical skills as well as providing ICT and experimental equipment and setting up local resource centres, available to communities within a broad surrounding area.

Dr George Mulamula, chief executive officer at DTBi, said students need a better foundation and by doing this at the school level, it ensured them to be more innovative and have entrepreneurial skills.

IOP President Prof Dame Higgins said the institute supports the country to tap its young talent in science and technology by supporting the Tanzanian science, technology and business communities, including the Tanzanian Physics Society.

“We join forces to tackle a national challenge that science students finish school with very little in the way of business skills,” he said adding that Tanzania’s economy relies on a growing science and technology private sector.

The Institute of Physics is the professional and learned society for physics in the UK and Ireland, inspiring people to develop their knowledge, understanding and use physics to solve community problems.

The IOP works with a range of partners to support and develop the teaching of physics in schools; to encourage innovation, growth and productivity in business, including addressing significant skills shortages.

The latest IOP event concludes this year’s Future STEM Business Leaders programme, which encourages students at the secondary level in Tanzania to apply their scientific training to solve local challenges with business ideas.

The programme, now in its second year, has been working with schools to help students develop their skills by taking them through the process from identifying a science-based solution to a problem in the local community, to preparing a business idea for the market.