This is a guest post by Tiago Gonçalves, a third year MSci Physics with Theoretical Physics student at the University of Nottingham and a member of the ENTHUSE project team.
While I was busy being born, Getachew was busy finishing his physics degree. Now, Getachew has a dream.
After graduating he became a teacher, but he is not content with the teaching of physics in his homeland – Ethiopia. He would like all children to have access to a good physics education: less textbooks, more hands-on.
He did not keep dreaming, but got cracking. Three years ago, he took part in a physics teachers’ training course (Bill (Poole) and Christine (Cleave) came here at the time). Now, he is himself an Ethiopian National Trainer, working for the Ministry of Education. The National Trainers instruct Regional Trainers, handing on what they learnt from sessions like those we are delivering this week, in a “cascade” process. (This is interesting wording since we are here thanks to a Cascade Grant, part of the Impact Campaign and the University of Nottingham’s grants programme).
It’s not easy, though. There are many schools in the country, and it just can’t afford to import practical physics equipment for all of them. However, Getachew believes you don’t need to have expensive equipment – physics is all around and you can use locally available materials to build your own equipment. That’s exactly what he is hoping to develop together with the other national trainers and with our help.
A physics enthusiast, twenty years after his first degree Getachew is now specializing in nuclear physics and will be supporting the Ministry of Education for a further six years. He is aware that the cascade process has disadvantages as well as advantages, so he wants to improve the system to make sure all children will have a much better experience with physics.
And after the six years? He is not sure, “God knows”. Something is certain: he will keep striving to build, day by day, a better future for physics, for his country, for his children.