Physics for Development

The IOP aims to support physicists and physics teachers in low- and middle-income countries around the world primarily through two major capacity building programmes: IOP for Africa and Entrepreneurial Workshops.

Practical Physics Teacher Training

For countries to develop their own science base, they need a supply of scientifically qualified people, meaning that education is a natural priority. Building on experience gained working both in the UK and Ireland and through previous projects in sub-Saharan Africa, the IOP provides support that improves STEM skills in Africa by strengthening national systems and contributing to national plans that will build a skilled workforce and stimulate economic growth.

Through the IOP for Africa Programme, the IOP looks to challenge the obstacles to physics education in some of the poorest countries in the world. Over the last decade, we have run projects in several sub-Saharan African countries to train local teachers to enhance their subject knowledge and their practical skills. As part of the IOP’s new strategy for Africa, we will focus our efforts on fewer countries, and by allowing local organisations to build on what we began in others, we hope to be able to create lasting change for physics in sub-Saharan Africa.

Entrepreneurship Programme

In 2005, the World Conference on Physics for Sustainable Development, organised in Durban by the International Union for Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP), brought together scientists from developed and developing countries. Several priority areas were identified at the conference as most relevant to the needs of developing countries; the IOP was charged with taking the lead on physics and economic development. It was recognised that for the social and economic benefits for all developing countries, entrepreneurial education and training of science and engineering students is a useful tool for sustainable growth.

In partnership with the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP), the IOP co-sponsored a pilot workshop in Trieste in 2006. Financial support was also provided by the American Physical Society (APS) and the World Bank. The workshop focused on the entrepreneurial skills required to commercialise innovations and bring them to market. The IOP signed a Memorandum of Understanding with ICTP for the delivery of one workshop per year, located in alternate years in Trieste and in a low- or middle-income country. In addition to ICTP and the APS, the workshop programme has also been supported by the IEEE, the Optical Society (OSA), The World Academy of Sciences (TWAS), along with many other international partners.

The IOP has led on the organisation of around 20 workshops in a range of developing countries and at Trieste, with attendees from over 40 developing countries. Over 700 participants have been trained and many have started their own businesses.

last edited: November 01, 2017

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