Friday, May 9, 2008

Tanzania: Space Subjects Set to Get Higher Priority

The Citizen (Dar es Salaam)
By Zephania Ubwani Arusha

The teaching of space science in Tanzania schools and colleges will be given special emphasis from now on, it was announced here yesterday.

The programme would be supported by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

The UNESCO national commission executive secretary, Prof Elizabeth Kiondo, told The Citizen that up to now space science has not been sufficiently taught in schools, leave alone other science subjects.

She said as from now the subject would be included in the school curriculum because space technology was vital for the country's development.

She was speaking at the start of a space education workshop aimed to orient teachers and students on new subjects to be included in the school curriculum soon.

Prof Kiondo, until recently an information studies expert at the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM), said Tanzania must catch up with the rest of the world by embracing science and technology programmes taking place elsewhere in the world.

The training attracted 25 science teachers and 25 students from schools in and around Arusha. Two similar workshops have taken place in Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar.

According to her, the project to promote the teaching of space science would be implemented on a pilot basis for selected schools and teachers in Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar and Arusha.

On Monday Unesco donated nine telescopes to the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training as part of its support to the programme.

Prof Kiondo said although space science was increasingly becoming important to human beings, especially in communications, remote sensing and climate change, there is little interest in it in developing countries, including Tanzania.

"The main problem is that we have not explored the potential of space science towards poverty alleviation and sustainable development.

"It is, therefore, important to stimulate interest and awareness of the importance of space science and technology to improve the quality of lives and support sustainable development of our society", she observed.

Unesco has designated 2009 as the International Year of Astronomy. Its main aim is to stimulate worldwide interest, especially among young people, in astronomy and science.

Activities to mark the year in Tanzania would be coordinated by a renowned space scientist and astronomer based in Dar es Salaam Dr N. Jiwaji.