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‘Quality science education at schools- a must for quality higher education’

By Our Correspondent
April 10, 2018

Islamabad: Muslim countries were urged to get united and jointly work to regain the prestige the Muslims used to enjoy in their golden era being leaders in science.

The views were expressed at the International Forum on Science Education held in conjunction with the 2018 meeting of Inter Academic Partnership on Science Education Programme (IAP SEP) at the Higher Education Commission (HEC) Secretariat on Monday.

The forum themed ‘Quality Science Education at Schools- A Must for Quality Higher Education and Economic Development’ was jointly organised by HEC, ECO Science Foundation, Pakistan Academy of Sciences and Alif Ailaan. Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed, Chairman, HEC, Dr. Qasim Jan, President, Pakistan Academy of Sciences, Dr. Manzoor Hussain Soomro, President, ECO Science Foundation, and around 200 speakers and participants from 12 countries of the world attended the forum. Dato Lee Yee Cheong, Chair, Global Council InterAcademic Partnership on Science Education Programme graced the forum as keynote speaker.

In his address, Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed, chairman, HEC said science, technology and innovation are critical inputs for sustainable economic development and poverty alleviation. He underlined that effective science education at school level is a building block to produce quality higher education, which is critical to achieve sustainable economic development in Pakistan. He signified the role of HEC in promoting Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education in Pakistan. He urged the participants and stakeholders to use this Forum as a platform to synergise strengths to ensure and promote quality science education at school levels, which would be critical input to quality higher education in Pakistan. “We can achieve global competitiveness only if we promote and produce qualified human resources and a STEM workforce to the global challenges of water, climate change, energy and food security for future generations”, he added.

“The Muslims mindset needs to be shaken to harness the potential of our youth, as youth are the main powerhouse of the Muslim world,” he emphasised. He underscored that outcome based education must of concentrated so as to create impact of humanity and society. He urged the world nations to fix their directions towards development of constructive science for the well-being of whole mankind.

Delivering his keynote speech on “Digital Revolution, Development Revolution, Science Educaiton and Science Literacy,” Dato Lee Yee Cheong highlighted the significance and emerging role of digital technology in shaping the ongoing digital revolution around the globe, particularly in the developing world. He emphasised adopting the STEM subjects for children to ensure the human resources necessary for the digital revolution and to equip the world with a rational and discerning citizenry towards global peace, harmony and prosperity. He observed that the world today is passing through the 4th Industrial Revolution caused by a nexus of billions of people connected by mobile devices, with unprecedented processing power, storage capacity, and access to knowledge; and technology breakthroughs. He underlined that One Belt and One Road (OBOR) is the visionary initiative of China that will transform economic and social and sustainable development along the belt and road. He also emphasised promotion of Inquiry Based Science Education (IBSE) in the region to prepare next generations to respond to the global challenges in the Future.

On this occasion, Prof. Dr. Manzoor Hussain Soomro shed light on the main objectives of holding international forum. He said the forum was an ideal space to generate the debate on science education in Pakistan, sharing of global experiences and the understanding of new paths for improvement of human life, sustainable economic growth and policy making by employing effective science education approach such as the IBSE at all levels. Quality higher education can lead to promote Science, Technology and Innovation and Sustainable Economic Development in the ECO region, he added.

In his welcome remarks earlier, Dr. Qasim Jan welcomed all the international guests, delegates and local participants. He revealed the role of Pakistan Academy of Sciences for promotion of science education in the national development of the country.

The forum included a series of panel discussions on a number of thematic areas of science education and explored the ideas around the challenges, implementation of effective science teaching and policy measures by expert panelists on science education around the globe. The forum deliberated in depth on the interaction of digital revolution, development revolution, inquiry based science education and STEM education from pre-school through primary, secondary and tertiary education to lifelong learning.

The forum adopted Islamabad Declaration with recommendations from experts. The recommendations included a call to all IAP member academies of sciences and their IBSE/ STEM partners to reiterate their commitment to IBSE/STEM education, and to lobby governments to establish more interactive science museums.

The recommendations also stressed the IAP SEP Global Council to actively support Climate Change Education. The industry, particularly the infrastructure and digital technology related enterprises, are urged to assist national academies of science and governments to enhance STEM education initiatives.