The Future STEM Business Leaders programme encourages students in Tanzanian secondary schools to apply their scientific training to solve local challenges through the creation of science-based businesses.
This September we worked with students from a number of secondary schools in Dar es Salaam to begin year two of the programme. The students started their journey with an intensive week of talks from business leaders in Tanzania, and also took part in workshops designed to build confidence, as well as communications, practical, business and team-working skills. These sessions supported the students in developing the skills and knowledge they will need for the remainder of the programme, and for their future careers.
Dr Najat Mohammed, Head of Physics at the University of Dar es Salaam, said: “The Future STEM Business Leaders programme is fantastic. The government of Tanzania is encouraging industrialisation across the country, yet increasing numbers of students find themselves unemployed after university. This makes business skills important, now more than ever, as graduates can create their own jobs. The IOP has been a great support in achieving this.”
Now in its second year, the programme also works with teachers to support them to implement the ideas explored in the workshops when the students return to school. IOP Teaching and Learning Coach, Eleanor Wylie, said: “There is a real challenge in developing some of these ideas with limited equipment and with class sizes of up to 120. But it’s been great working with such an enthusiastic and dedicated group of teachers, and exploring how we can overcome challenges together using locally available equipment to benefit the students.”
The students and teachers will now continue with the programme through to December. During the next stage, students will work with their mentors – who are business owners in Tanzania – to apply the skills and knowledge they have learnt during the training to their own ideas and conduct research to demonstrate how their ideas can address the challenges identified in their local area. The students will then work with the Dar Teknohama Business Incubator that will help them to develop the business aspects for their idea, which includes preparing business plans, developing budgets and conducting market analysis.
IOP’s School Support Manager, Taj Bhutta, added: “It has been really satisfying watching the students’ progress. They started off quite shy and reluctant, but by the end of the week they are working really well in teams made of students from other schools, and watching them pitch their ideas with confidence and enthusiasm. It’s also great to see some of the students we worked with last year come back to support the new cohort.”
At the end of the programme the schools will come together to pitch their ideas to a panel of judges, giving the students the opportunity to showcase what they have learnt, and how they have applied their skills and scientific knowledge to a practical business project they have developed. The IOP team will be back in December to see the students’ final projects, meet with the teachers and local partners and start looking ahead to year three of the programme.
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