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18 May, 2017 00:00 00 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 17 May, 2017 11:22:38 PM
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Science Education

Science Education

Sheikh Iraj

Science education has great importance in society, especially for the new generation. For many, science is a way of life for engaging with the modern world. Today, the challenges we face, from climate change to space travel, we need science education to be successful in most fields. We need our youths to take more interest in science, because that is how we are going to move ahead in today’s high-tech world. For example, from finding cures for deadly diseases to growing more crops in limited space, we need the youth to come up with new solutions and science education is the answer. Science is the future and we cannot ignore it. That is why, like the rest of the world, the government and educational institutions are taking various steps to promote and popularise science among youths.   
“I believe science education is extremely important for students. It is best to introduce them to science from the very beginning of their academic life. The introduction of ICT (information and communication technology) as a subject (in schools) has been very well received by the students and parents. Today’s youths are very keen to learn about science and it’s our duty to help them as much as we can. In our school, we have a computer lab, but the science lab where students carry out physics and biology experiments has not been upgraded in the last 10 years. I know some other schools in Mirpur that are in the same situation,” Jyotirmoy Sen, a senior teacher at Mirpur Siddhanta High School, told Y&I.
Kamal Uddin, 16, a student of the school, believes they have all the equipment needed for getting a good science education. “I think today everyone has their own personal computer and there are some interesting websites which have different types of scientific education contents,” he said.  
Bangladesh International School and College (BISC) at Mohakhali DOHS regularly arranges science festivals and other science-oriented programmes. “We always look to encourage students in science education. Every year, we coordinate a number of science-related festivals and competitions, where our students display their projects and ideas. Recently, we organised a science festival at our school. We normally motivate our students to work on projects that deal with practical problems. We have a science club, with 80 members. Our members participate in different programming contests and we always inspire them to take part in as many science-oriented programmes as possible,” Animesh Samundh, a teacher of BISC, said.
Afra Nawar, 18, a student of class 12 and president of BISC’s Science Club, said: “Our members become motivated in science education through participating in different science festivals. Many schools in the capital organise such programmes on a regular basis and our members participate in those, too. By taking part in the programmes, students are able to meet new faces and build up a network among themselves. So, whenever there is a science festival going on somewhere, our students get the news. Most of the students in our school are in the science group. In our club, we teach our members about problem-solving using scientific methods, how to make science-based projects and we train them for science quiz competitions.”    
Monotosh Kumar, assistant headmaster of Monipur High School and College, said: “Just by saying that we encourage science education, students are not going to be inspired. A student needs to have the urge to learn about science and through organising programmes like science festivals, we can create that interest. About 95 per cent of the students in our school are in the science group. These 1,600 students regularly participate in various science-related programmes. I believe learning about nature is part of science education as well. For example, we had a bird fair in our school and students got to learn about different scientific names of birds. Educational institutes also need to have a good budget to carry out such programmes. Every year, we have a budget of Taka 10 to 15 lakh to organise such programmes.”
Abdulla Al Mamun, 16, a student of the school, said: “I study in class 10 and it is true that in our school different science related programme are organised. Normally, we have to study for long hours and after class, private tuition and homework, I don’t feel like doing anything else. Nevertheless, it is nice to attend some of these programmes from time to time.”
Tanjib Mahmud, 14, is a student of class 9 at Milestone School and College in Uttara. He wanted to study in the arts group, but his uncle and teachers advised him otherwise. “I was always good in maths and science, but I wanted to study in arts. My well-wishers suggested that I can always study art on my own, but nowadays it is more important to have a science background. Too many students are studying in art and commerce groups, and I believe students from a science background get jobs quickly,” he said.
Bipul Kumar Deb, a teacher at Notre Dame College, told Y&I: “STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) is one of the most globally accepted science education system, which has recently been introduced in Bangladesh. The US State Department is helping in this regard by providing a scope of exchange visits for students and teachers. They are also providing teachers’ training opportunities and funding. STEM has started a new journey with the new name STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and Mathematics). Different statistics show the incorporation of arts in science gives pace in learning, thinking, and creativity.”
“In Bangladesh, GEIST (Global Educators Initiative for Sustainable Transformation) is working hard to promote STEAM. At the moment, GEIST is engaging 80 schools from all over Bangladesh, where 800 students and 800 teachers will be trained. GEIST is going to organise the first national STEAM competition in October this year. Developing online based science education, ‘meet the scientist’ events are some of the other activities they are going to organise. I hope through these activities, we will be able to inspire some portion of the youth towards science education.”  
Mohammad Abu Nasher, public relation officer of the government’s ICT Division, told Y&I:  “In order to build a ‘digital’ Bangladesh, one needs a digital education system. So far, we have established 2,001 computer or digital laboratories in different parts of the country. Moreover, we are in the process of opening another 900 such labs. For primary education, we have made digital multimedia contents. Through these contents, students are able to learn in a more interactive way. We regularly coordinate programming contests.”
“To motivate science education among university students, we have established different types of labs. For example, at Jahangirnagar University, we have set-up a software testing and quality assurance lab, a robotics lab at BUET and at Dhaka University, we have established an animation lab. Right now, we are organising ‘Girls’ Programming Contest 2017’, it is being held at Daffodil International University. We want more participation from girls in this sector. Girls often face different social barriers and building a career in IT (information technology) sector can be a way for them to overcome those obstacles,” Nasher said.
“ICT Division wants to work and grow with everyone. Under our Digital Connectivity Project, we are going to open another 15,000 digital labs. We are promoting various startup programmes. In the future, promising startup companies will be allocated office spaces in IT parks. We also have an online educational platform. There, different digital contents on maths, chemistry and biology are available. We are not promoting this website at the moment because we want to include more subjects,” Nasher added.
Society for the Popularisation of Science, Bangladesh (SPSB) is a club registered by the ICT Division. The club started its journey in 2001 with the prime goal of motivating students towards science education. Children Science Congress, Bangladesh Junior Science Olympiad and Spark of Light are some of the major programmes that they organise on a regular basis.
The Children Science Congress is organised in coordination with Bangladesh Freedom Foundation. The aim of this programme is to inspire students and help them in their research work. Students of different schools first take part in the Qudrat-i-Khuda Science Camp, where they learn about different procedures of scientific research. Then they submit a brief summary of their research to the Congress website. After careful examination, the best 40 to 50 concepts are selected and awarded. The winners then get to participate at the Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose Science Camp.
Munir Hasan, vice-president of the club, said: “Through Bangladesh Junior Science Olympiad, we want to motivate school students in problem-solving using science. In Dhaka, 40 students are awarded and selected to participate in the camp. After that, six students are selected to participate in the International Junior Science Olympiad. Students of class 3 to 12 can take part in the Children Science Congress, while students of class 6 to 10 can take part in the Junior Science Olympiad. Besides these, we arrange various workshops throughout the year.”
      Quzi Munirul Islam, joint chief of planning at the Education Ministry, said: “In schools, we have established multimedia classrooms across the country. Previously, we had some accommodation problems, but at the moment we have handled that situation rather nicely. We have a project in our hand where we are going to set up 1,500 digital labs in colleges. The ICT Division is setting up computer labs as well, but the basic difference between them and us is that we are also providing training for teachers. Our biggest challenge is to find and create qualified teachers. We have to understand that in this sector, we need more experts than equipment. Equipment plays a vital role, but what if there is no one to operate those? In a recent meeting, we were discussing how we can make science education more popular among the youth. We need combined effort from everyone to make that happen. We have come to a decision that our officers will visit local schools whenever they are out on tours and check how those schools are operating the multimedia classrooms.”
BRAC, a non-profit organisation, started a Computer Aided Learning (CAL) Programme in 2005 using personal computers as tools of teaching. The main task of the programme is to develop interactive multimedia educational software based on the national curriculum, and thus, improve the teaching capacity of teachers as well as make classes more interesting and engaging, according to the website of BRAC Education Programme. Inspired by this innovative initiative, the Ministry of Education partnered with BRAC to pilot CAL contents in 22 secondary schools in 2009.
Understanding the importance of CAL, the ICT Division also joined hands with BRAC to develop interactive multimedia digital content for primary level in 2014. The project was completed in 2016 and is now piloting contents in 30 government primary schools. All the contents were uploaded onto websites and a total of around 15 lakh (1.5 million) users have visited the sites and downloaded contents. Primary and secondary contents are also available in DVD format.

Photos: Courtesy

 

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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