Dar es Salaam. The government has announced its plan for the 2022/23 financial year including its resolve to promote science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) among the youth.
This would include providing fully funded government sponsorships to students who excel in science subjects in the Form Six national exams.
The next budget will also provide scholarships to university students in science, especially in medical technology who will go to notable global universities, gain knowledge, come back and help the country to strengthen key interventions in the medical sector.
The government noted also that it was focused on ensuring that Tanzania universities were recognized globally as part of a larger investment in science.
Outlining achievements in the education sector since President Samia Suluhu Hassan came to the top office, Education, Science and Technology Minister Adolf Mkenda said his ministry focused at effectively implementing all aspects of STEM.
This comes at a time when education stakeholders, including scientific associations, have long complained that many students feared taking science courses, especially girls, the area he said required special motivation measures.
Lack of scientific publications from university lecturers in respected global journals has made local universities unreliable science centres worldwide, according to education stakeholders. But, in the next budget, science students who will excel in Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Mathematics in the final Form Six exams will be sent to renown universities abroad.
According to Prof Mkenda, this was one of the strategies to encourage young students to love science subjects, increase their scientific knowledge from leading global universities in order to strengthen key sectors such as health, agriculture, energy, water and education. He revealed that the ministry will allocate funds to implement the said plan under the government sponsorship as directed by the CCM 2020-2025 election manifesto.
“Best performers will be identified, get consent of parents or guardians before sending them abroad for different academic programmes,” said the economy professor.
Regarding recognition of local universities, he said the ministry would set aside funds in the next budget to provide incentives to lecturers whose publications would be accepted and published in special global academic journals.
“In the science and technology world, one is not supposed to lock in own’s country in order to become competitive. We are supposed to look for technology and bring back home. Let us look for solutions to scientific challenges from technologically developed countries,” he said.
“Our scientists should see the benefit of science even if they remain in the country. Hopefully, this effort will increase the number of capable scientists capable to solve the challenges facing the country,” said the Rombo lawmaker.
Further, in promoting and enhancing technology and innovation, he said through the annually organized national science, technology and innovation competition (Makisatu), the government was planning to support students with unique ideas to contribute to the country’s growth. “The aim of this competition is to visualise, recognise local innovations and technology developed by the youth; promote creative motivation and use of science, technology and innovation in economic activities,” he said.
He said so far 26 innovations supported by the government have been developed, noting that they were being used to address challenges in the agricultural, water, energy, health and education sectors.
Prof Mkenda said the government has increased the budget from Sh500 million in 2020/21 to Sh1 billion in 2021/22 to enable young innovators to emerge.
Dar es Salaam-based educational consultant Thomas Jabir says government initiatives brought a huge hope to the youth and the country’s economy. “Although we are unaware on the number of beneficiaries, science and technology will be strengthened,” he said, calling education stakeholders to actively support the government.