The gender gap in Tanzania and other Sub- Saharan African countries is the results of historical injustices connected with the slanted gender relations which deter women from advancing in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM).
This field is considered to be masculine starting at the secondary education, which exclude females from taking up science subjects in secondary school and disqualifies them from applying for science related degree program in higher learning institutions. Sadly, many secondary school students do not have sufficient information about science subjects and the opportunities they provide. In order to address the gender discrepancy in STEM, many initiatives from both the government and non-governmental organizations should be undertaken to sensitize parents and students and help them to build positive attitude towards science subjects especially among female students.
Recently the Center for Gender Studies (CGS) with the support from the Innovative Agriculture Research Initiative (iAGRI) conducted school sensitization visits to eight secondary schools in Morogoro Municipality, the schools visited including: SUA, Morogoro, Alfagem, La Marian, Greenbelt, Mafiga, Kigurunyembe and Kihonda.
During school visits, gender affiliate staff and scientists from SUA led by Dr. Jeckoniah John had the opportunity to discuss many issues related to a career in sciences, students asked many questions, and most of them were motivated to study harder, particularly in science subjects necessary to become the future scientists. They also presented a number of challenges hindering them from progressing into science careers.
“The facilities such as laboratories and chemicals needed to do scientific experiments are inadequate and students are overcrowded in the classrooms. Students also lack of opportunities to do practical work that would help them link the theoretical learning in classes with hand on experience at least for some basic science activities,” said Jamila Khamis a students at Kihonda Secondary.
Adding on the same challenge, Joan Karigo a student from Morogoro secondary says “options for science subjects are sometimes predetermined by your performance and the facilities available at the particular school. We were grouped into a different specialization, for example art, science and nutrition. This is sometimes against our will and it’s difficult to decide otherwise.”
Also the team found that many secondary schools students around Morogoro Municipality are not aware of the courses offered at SUA, and lack of motivation for studying science subjects and developing their careers. Therefore, sensitization visits have the potential to change the attitude of secondary schools students towards science subjects and careers.
Despite the initiative injected by government and other stake holders in the education sector, ,still there is need to address this problem using multifaceted approach such as regular school visit and sensitization programs, as well as learning about the research and technologies available in Universities which would motivate for them to opt for science subjects. There should also be an interaction between both junior and senior scientists working in Universities and research stations, hence helping in promote students at the primary and secondary level to develop their future careers in sciences.