By Hellen Nachilongo

About nineteen students across the country have been given scholarship to study science courses in various universities, since the establishment Young Scientists Tanzania (YST) six years ago

Every year, YST organises a national exhibition and competition in which several schools, students come together to participate in the event, to generate ideas for their projects based on the realities facing their communities.

Several prizes are offered during competition however, the overall winner of the competition is at the end given a scholarship opportunity to study at any university in the country.

The organisation focuses on promoting young Tanzanians by providing a platform for young students from across all schools in the country to demonstrate their innovation and showcase their scientific talents.

The event also includes, tackling topics as wide ranging as nutrition, climate change, sustainable agriculture, gender inequality, disease, clean water and sustainable energy, all of which have major implications for the development of the Tanzanian economy and society.

This year’s event will be held between August 8 and 9, at Julius Nyerere Convention Center (JNCC) whereby it will bring together 100 teachers and 200 students from different secondary schools countrywide, with BG Tanzania, a Subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell as the main sponsor of YST.

During a two days exhibition, students will be given an opportunity to compete with others to represent their schools at the national competition.

YST co-founder, executive director Dr Gozibert Kamugisha told Success recently during a tour visit at Kibaha, Tumbi and Malamaba mawili secondary school that this year’s exhibition will be one of its kinds, because the exhibition goes concurrently with government slogan of industrialisation and medium income country by 2025.

Among other generated ideas to be presented at the upcoming exhibition include purification of water using solar system, Keep it cold or hot and how electricity is controlled by sound.

Explaining on solar purification of water idea, a form three student at Malama Mawili Secondary School, Violet Jakob said that they came up with such an idea in order to help the community access clean drinking water.

“One of the biggest national and world problem is finding clean water for domestic use, though in some areas you can find purified water due to the presence of technology however, in rural area people don’t have access to clean drinking water,” she said.

According to her, in rural areas most of the people use unpurified water due to lack of technology and skills therefore the problem can be solved by using simple method of distillation and purification.

She added that heavily contaminated water can be distilled to drinking water using solar heat to remove volatile solid impurities, microorganism but it is very disappointing that people still drink unpurified water due to lack of knowledge and skill.

She said that solar purification system is very important because it can be used in purifying water at house level using radiation with additional use of solar heating.

Dr Kamugisha explained that for a country to be developed there must be people who would be able to generate different type of ideas and such individuals are school going children with fresh mind.

“We encourage students to study science practically in order to help them try to solve the problems that occur in their community daily instead of waiting for the government to do everything for the community,” he said.

He said that students should not practice science of copy and paste but should conduct research in order to come up with new ideas and new innovations that would help uplift the advancement of technology and to boost the economy of the country.

Ms Patricia Mhondo, external relations manager at BG Tanzania, explained that they have been collaborating with YST to encourage students to learn science subjects, because they believe the fields of science rely on investing in young scientists.

“Most of the time, students get the wrong perception and shy away from learning science subjects, because they think science is difficult but it is an easy subject and the field gives high employment opportunity than other fields because a scientist can be anything he/she wants to be in life,” she said.

She said that since the country is blessed with natural gas there is need to have adequate science experts who will be able to compete globally, nationally.

In view of this, she added that by having competent scientists, Tanzanians will have a greater opportunity at getting employment than losing such posts to foreign employees.

Ms Mhondo explained that doing science makes someone become more productive and boasts thinking capacity beyond your imagination..

Coastal region coordinator of YST and a Kibaha secondary school teacher Mr Paul Balibate said the initiative to encourage students to study has helped the students record good pass marks so far.

In view of this, he explained that to teach children science subjects at an early age, will help the country innovate various projects therefore joint efforts by the government and stakeholders is needed to ensure that science subjects are regarded as national interest of the country.

“Ever since the school started participating in the exhibition in 2012, most students have been inspired to take science subjects which at times becomes difficult for the school authority to allow all students who pick an interest in science to enrol,” he said.

Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa recently granted permits for recruitment of 4,126 teachers for mathematics and science subjects, as among means of improving education standard in both primary and secondary schools in the country.

He told the National Assembly that the industrial economy largely requires highly competent human resources, especially in mathematics and science.

The premier said that like any other countries in Africa, Tanzania was facing challenges for her students not wishing to study mathematics and science subjects and thus, contributing to the poor performance in these subjects.

“It is obvious that our children will be compelled to depend on experts from aborad if empahisis isn’t put on mathematics and science subjects, a matter that will cause most Tanzanians to remain as observers,” he warned.

He said that currently government has taken measures, including encouraging students to like and take up science subjects at all levels of their studies.

Furthermore, he said the government continues with its plans of constructing laboratories in secondary schools and colleges.     

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