Make science accessible to all

Science education is extremely imperative in the present world; this is not only for the present day but for all time.  Science undoubtedly discredits superstition and brings boundless peace in human life. Before science and scientific knowledge, human life was intolerably fictitious. Science unravels mysteries and brings human knowledge nearer to the truth. 

Carl Sagan a famous cosmologist once says ‘we live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology’.  To expend scientific knowledge and its purview, the United Nations (UN) celebrates ‘World Science Day for Peace and Development’ every year.         

As science is universal knowledge, every person, regardless of their status and sociological background, must have the right to equally enjoy its innovation and technology. So, science should open its access and data to each society, i.e. science and scientific technology should be universal and its access should be open to everyone. 

With a view to create massive awareness, the UN celebrates this day in order to ensure a better world for all. To mobilize support for effective understanding and also to ensure peace and development, some special events or actions are taken into consideration. Among them, massive awareness for all is essential. And, this is of two purposes: to achieve the sustainable goal that is marked by the UN, and to bring peace for the society we made so far. Now, let us see the picture of science education in our country to make a hypothesis on future science studies. 

Study says science education has been declining drastically particularly in rural areas of Bangladesh.  Bangladesh Bureau of Educational Information and Statistics (BANBEIS) finds, science education has declined by 48 percent from 1993 to 2015 in the country. BANBEIS also finds that the root of declining of science education is the lack of motivation from school and parents. Other sources confirm that after passing grade eight, only twenty percent students finally find opportunity to get science in grade 9. This happens factually for two reasons: one is personal indifference and another is structural incapability. 

As science is universal knowledge, 

every person, regardless of their status and 

sociological background,must have the right to 

equally enjoy its innovation and technology

Students and their parents don’t prefer science because there is a huge dearth of well-trained science teachers and the environment they are being brought up. BANBEIS further says that nearly twenty percent institutions don’t have science departments and most of the institutions don’t have conducive facilities to learning.       

On the other hand, urban parents choose science to make their kids doctors and engineers; as a result, science in most part has been confined to so-called higher classes. This fact is rather disheartening because students want an easy way to get a certificate of higher education but science is conceived to be difficult and costly to pursue as a degree. 

The future of science education seems bleak because science students are becoming businesspersons, bankers, general civil servants or entrepreneurs. So, students explore comparatively easier way to get success. Education in most part becomes a commodity and a tool of gaining success in life. 

Success, here, has never been thought to be something that illuminates the human soul and enables human society to be prosper. The word “success” has become synonymous with getting richer and, that is why, business studies have become lucrative. And, obviously, studying business in higher education has become very popular as it is conceived to be a wonderful tool of making life more comfortable.

Following this reality, we need to look forward for future Bangladesh. What we actually need is to enhance the scope of science in our practical work. Surprisingly, students with extraordinary talent in science and technology have been compelled to seek other branches to survive. Even in the civil service, huge number of technical people, doctors, engineers or agriculturalists, are choosing magistracy, policing, customs or taxation as their profession. That is why; technical persons who would have many things to contribute to the nation are lost. In the same way, brilliant science students are leaving the country due to finding no way to contribute here. 

To popularize science, some programs have already been introduced like, science fair, science week, mathematical Olympiads, international and national science competition, etc. This is insufficient. Students of local districts and rural areas don’t have sufficient knowledge about those competitions and programmes.  To make it more popular, such participation must be increased and students of rural areas must be incorporated. A comprehensive national policy is needed to grow interest in science among the guardians and students.  

The UN has been engaged in exactly such work. To quote from the proposed outcome, “Strengthen public awareness on the role of science for peaceful and sustainable societies; promote national and international solidarity for shared science between countries; renew national and international commitment for the use of science for the benefit of societies; draw attention to the challenges faced by science and raising support for the scientific endeavor”.  

It is very clear that uninterrupted flow of scientific knowledge among nations can improve the picture. But, there has been a serious gap between rich and poor nations. Communication between nations, transferring data and information, opinion and hypothesis, etc can ensure the process. We must keep in mind that making science more accessible to all is the goal we are striving for. 

Dr Siddhartha Shankar Joarder is Professor and Chairperson, Department of Philosophy, Jagannath University, Dhaka