A Critique on how science is being handled in this country and the possible suggested solutions.
By ANTHONY MATHIAS KAYEJI
ü What is Science?
ü What is Technology?
ü Importance of Science and Technology (Application)
ü How Science is handled in Tanzania
ü Hindrances of Science in Tanzania
ü Suggested solutions
What is Science?
The word Science is comes from the Latin ‘Scientia’ meaning knowledge.
Science is knowledge attained through study or practice or knowledge covering general truths of the operation of general laws especially as obtained and tested through science method and concerned with the physical world.
Science refers to a system of acquiring knowledge. This system uses observation and experimentation to describe and expiation natural phenomena.
The term Science also refers to the organized body of knowledge people has gained using that system.
Science is the concerted human effort to understand or to understand better, the history of the natural world and how the natural world works, with observable physical evidence as the basis of that understanding. It is done through observation of natural phenomena, and /or through experimentation that tries to simulate natural processes under controlled conditions.
What is Technology?
Technology is defined as the process by which humans modify nature to meet their needs and wants.
Technology is a product of engineering and science, the study of the natural world.
NOTE: Science and Technology are tightly coupled. A scientific understanding of the natural world is the basis for much of technological development today. When we talk about Technology actually we are referring to the application of scientific facts, ideas, theory and principles in engineering various products, such as Infrastructures, Various machines, Computers, Communications, Weapons, Energy sources, Food products, Medicines, Agricultural products, Genetic engineering, Security(forensic purpose),and etc.
Therefore Science has two parts:
- A body of knowledge that has been accumulated over time
- A process-scientific inquiry that generates knowledge about the natural world
Most scientific investigations use some form of the scientific method.
Scientific Method: is the logical and rational order of steps by which scientists come to conclusions about the world around them. Scientific methods help to organise thoughts and procedures so that scientists can be confident in the answers they finds.
Steps of the Scientific method are;
|Raise questions that require answers|
|Data analysis (test hypotheses if any)|
Importance of Science and Technology (Application)
Science is very important to the lives of human being and his environment that he lives in. Science as it’s
- It improves people’s lives.
- Lies in a society’s desire for economic development.
- Lies in humanity’s increasing control over our planet and its environment.
- Brings curiosity and satisfaction that comes from knowledge of the world around us.
These are just fundamental roles of science and technology, which show what science can offer us. From the outlined roles above, it shows that human lives and all affairs depend totally on science and technology and it is honest to say “without science and technology, life on earth would be extremely difficulty and almost impossible”. If real we want to develop and have control (dominion) over our planet (environment) there is no way we can escape from science and its products. The history is telling us that the societies which had early venture in the application of science were the one which showed earlier development e.g. in Africa there were Ashanti empire, Bunyoro empire, etc.These were able to make iron weapons like spear, arrows and bush knives, hoes for farming purpose. Not only were that but also able to extract precious metal from their ores like gold, iron and diamonds. Due to such innovation these societies were able to prosper, expand and make their empire strong.
For the case of European, the industrial revolution was due to advancement in science and technology which led into a powerful state as result colonization took place to some part of the world.
NB: No any country that managed to develop economically, politically, socially, and security wise without having advancement in science and technology.
Tanzania will not develop unless it put more emphases in improving science and technology, so as to get more experts in various sector. Such as engineers, architectures, medical doctors, pharmacists, contractors, geologists, economists, and researchers, these will take our country in another level of development. This will be possible if and only if we start emphasizing science discipline from the grass root i.e. primary school, secondary school up to tertiary level. We have seen how science and technology are very important in the development of any country especially during this era of science and technology.
How Science is handled in Tanzania?
Tanzania as a country had been trying much to improve science and technology, although her efforts did not result into tangible achievement. In attempt to achieve this Tanzania introduced science disciplines into its syllabi starting from primary schools to University level. The major aim is to orient Tanzanian students in to science and technology. With all these efforts Tanzania have failed to achieve its goals effectively as a result more Tanzanian student are opting in social sciences even those students who were taking science either in O’level or A’ level some of them, they do not continue with studying science in higher learning study e.g. a PCB student joining Bcom instead of joining Medicines.
Science in primary schools: Tanzanian pupils are introduced to science effectively starting in standard three (3). Pupils are taught simple concepts of science. The aim of introducing science in primary schools is to prepare a good foundation in science to the pupils also to let them have interest in studying science.
The implementation here is faced by number of hindrances such as lack of teaching-learning material, so pupils learn science without practicing, hence no meaningful learning since science is learnt through observation and experimentation. The second hindrance is teaching methodology used is teachers-centered methods, no student participation this may be contributed by lack of regularly in-service training which is rarely conducted. The third hindrance is negative attitudes towards science subjects, there is believe to both society and pupils that science subjects are difficulty to understand; hence pupils tend to hate and escape them as a result they perform poorly. Lastly is lack of in-service training, so teachers do not get the opportunity to gain new knowledge on how to improve science teaching, hence keep on using outdated techniques.
Science in O’level: students studies natural sciences, physical sciences and mathematics. These subjects are compulsory in form 1-2 above that, students are free either to continue with science subjects or switch on to art disciplines. Surprisingly most students do opt for art subjects and commerce while few remain taking science. These may be due to the way science is treated. In most cases is taught theoretically sometime with little practices because most school have no laboratories, adequate chemical and apparatus, also student set for alternative practical. For those schools with laboratories practical are done when students are approaching final examinations, all these done to avoid costs. Second is lack of motivation to teachers and students, student who are excelling in science should be rewarded so as to build competitive spirit among them. There are be a significant motivation to science teachers, been honestly science subjects are more demanding, time consuming, also more risk. Therefore without motivation there is no any teacher who will risk his life or take trouble in to improve science on his/her expenses, after all the salary for science teachers is the same as that of arts teachers. So science teacher are considered as cheap labour, you use them exhaustively and pay them little. They are working as teachers at the same time as technician with the same salary also are used by NECTA in preparing practical for necta and supervising being paid by necta instead they bargain to be paid by the school. All these are sources of inefficiency and ineffectiveness of science teaches.
Science in A’ level: Here students are allowed to choose the subjects of their interest e.g. PCB, PCM, CBA, CBG, PGM etc. The problems faced by students one of them is poor science background, some they never have laboratories in their former schools, hence have no ideas on science experiments, also some did alternative to practical. Second point is that, most laboratories are in bad conditions, they need rehabilitation and they have few chemicals and equipments, this leads into practical to be done only when preparing to set for final examination. Third, most teachers do not integrate theories with practical instead they teach practical differently from theory as a result students fail to relate theory and practical. The last point but one is shortage of A’ level science teachers and books, most of the schools are suffering from shortage of teachers and books. Lack of science teachers is not that, there are no teachers but more teachers are quitting the job to greener pastures. This will continue unless the government device an appropriate way to nurture the science teachers. Finally is the science syllabus in A’ level is too long to be cover within two years, so it become difficult to teacher to use appropriate method of teaching instead they opt for lecture method so as to be able to cover the syllabus as required.
Science in high learning institutions: the way it is handled still not much appreciable because students are overloaded with a pile of courses to be studied within a semester both students and the instructor struggle to cover huge volume of materials within this limited time as a result poor coverage and little gain. Second, the University syllabus is content based that student are drilled with many courses, and some of these courses are even irrelevant to the learner, that no where the learner will use them in all his/her life, also most of the course have only two units and sometime one unit, so to get 120 units of the whole program you need to take a lot of courses. Due to this, students complete their program with a lot of courses studied but master of none. For instance I happened to meet a third year student of computer engineering who was unable even to type properly by using computer. Science courses at high learning are not much valid because the course instructor has the mandate to make it simple or complex. If the instructor is lazy or does not master well the course he/she will treat it fairly and student complete with flying colours while they have gained little or none. And sometime if the instructor is unfair person can decide to make difficult and let students fail the course even if the course is simple. Therefore the University education is in the hand of the instructor. Lastly science in high learning institution is hindered by shortage of instruments/equipments which are required in the science laboratories for doing experiments and various scientific researches. For instance in the University of Dar-es-Salaam there some instruments missing which are very important researches, some of the research analysis can not be done in the country unless are taken to Kenya .
Here are some suggested solutions in order to mitigate the problems of science improvement in Tanzania. These are;
Laboratories; the government have to make sure that each secondary school has got laboratory with adequate chemicals and equipments, also rehabilitate the old laboratory. In addition to that the government has to employ the laboratory technicians so as to reduce the burden to the subject teacher; of course teachers are not trained to work in the laboratory. This has to apply from secondary level to University level.
Science Syllabi: The science syllabi have to be revised from content based to context, that some of the syllabus staff which seems to be of less important has to be chopped out so as to reduce the load to be covered by the students within a certain period of time. This is because the present contents can not be covered effectively within the required time; hence teachers tend to rush up in order to touch at least each part.
Motivation: The motivation should be provide to both science teachers and students. To students this should target to encourage student to opt for science subjects, and those who excells in science have to be rewarded. For the case of teachers, I argue the government to revise the salary scheme for science teacher to be relatively high compared to that of art teachers, also to initiate teaching allowances, working and living condition, this will attract more people to join teaching science subjects, also will motivate the science teachers to work hard. Without motivation to science teacher means that teaching will remain to be a stepping stone and a place to acquire experience.
In-service training: This was introduced in order to help teacher to acquire new knowledge and teaching techniques while working in their fields, but it is rarely conducted to teachers, even when is done does not favour all the teacher because it is full of subjective. People on high authority use it as a field for harvesting. Therefore the government has to make sure that all science teachers have access to seminars, workshops and short courses.
Education: Both society and students have to be educated on the importance and necessisity of science and technology in our country. We have to combat with the notion that science subjects are too tough and have no future in Tanzania, when we manage to change the negative attitudes of the society and students towards science subjects I hope science will be improved, but much of our efforts have to be directed to female students because have extreme negative attitudes that they can not pursue science subjects.
Introduction of science centers: It is my suggestion that the government has to introduce science centers which have the entire necessary requirements including well equipped laboratories, good supply of books, good living environments, well trained lab-technicians, and well paid selected skillful teachers. These centers should target the O’level and A’ level students. Only students with extreme exceptional ability in science have to be selected to join such centers. The centers have to act as a national engine to generate scientists, researchers, thinkers and discoverers. The government has to accept to spend much so as to create highly qualified scientists, the centers they shouldn’t be treated as how the government did to our special schools which now they are dying a natural death, the government introduced them without any strategy or policy.
Close follow-up: The government has to ensure that there is strictly close follow-up on the implementation of official curriculum in all level of our education. This will make a small disparity between official curriculum and enacted curriculum. Sometimes teachers tend to violet the regulations of teaching, e.g teaching practical separate from theory part, skipping some parts of the syllabus which is seems to be difficulty, these have to be watch with two eyes.
Conclusion, during this era of science and technology many countries are competing in having new innovations and discoveries which are sold as technologies. Tanzanian we need to fight for our independent and freedom in terms of science and technology, otherwise we will keep on being colonized my developed countries. Just imagine when the TANESCO generator get damaged we have to hire experts from abroad why not Tanzania? Why our country has been changed into a damping place for Chinese fake goods? Why are we importing even tooth pick, cotton bags from Chine? The answer is because we don’t want to invest in science and technology but we do invest much in politics and things like HIV/AIDS campaigns. We are scientifically dependant because our mind is still colonized by the white men. For true and quick development Tanzania have to put more emphases in orienting her young generation into science and technology otherwise we can’t compete in the world of science and technology which driven by globalization.