Africa must encourage maths and physics to thrive
Young people's interest in science is flagging worldwide. But the scientific worldview — universal, objective and built by multicultural effort — has real relevance for development, especially in Africa, says Nithaya Chetty.
In this article, Chetty — a computational physicist at the University of Kwazu-Natal, South Africa — says Africa must create a culture and environment in which basic sciences can thrive.
Despite biological sciences being paramount, biologists need collaborative research partners with strong mathematical, physics and computational skills, he adds.
A number of promising developments are already underway in South Africa. Free 'open source' software is taking off; new computational science institutes are being built; and investments in observational astronomy are enticing students to study physics.
Pan-African initiatives such as the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences have also come to fruition (see African science needs more training networks).
In all of this, says Chetty, the physics community has championed scientific development as a vehicle for progress — and governments are now beginning to listen.