Strenthening Scientific Education in Niger
The steady enrolment decline in science has become a global concern. This situation is exacerbated in some countries, particularly in Africa, where, in addition, the participation of girls and women in science is not guaranteed. This fact was confirmed by the Minister of Secondary and Higher Education and Scientific Research of Niger, who pointed out that enrollment in science at the University of Niamey is only about 13% for the academic year 2012-2013 in a speech during the opening ceremony of a workshop on teaching microscience. In 2010, the African Union and the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) developed a regional action plan to promote science and technology in Africa.
In this context, UNESCO organized a workshop on the Global Microscience Experiments in partnership with the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) and in collaboration with the Guri Vie Meilleure Foundation, founded by the First Lady of Niger. The workshop took place on 3- 5 January in Niamey, Niger.
The UNESCO Global Microscience Experiments Project aims to provide a practical approach to experiencing science for elementary and secondary school students (and in some countries, students in their first academic year), using kits designed especially with a textbook illustrating the various experiments.
The main objective of this programme is to build capacity in the field of science education and develop of scientific thinking and experimentation among primary and secondary students as well as academics.
During this workshop, 29 science teachers (chemistry, physics and biology) and 2 teachers of the École normale supérieure enjoyed a two-day training to familiarize themselves with the kits. They performed several experiments: the electrolysis of water, dosing, titration, verifying the laws of circuits in electricity and biology experiments. After this training, they attended a working session to discuss the following points with inspectors, curricula planners and educational authorities:
- Integrating the science kits in schools in the secondary level and higher levels
- Teacher training (those who have benefited from this training can train other teachers);
- Examining the possibility of reproducing these kits in Niger; and
- Adapting of science kits and curriculum materials to Niger.
This workshop was a great success with the authorities, teachers and students. Highly anticipated by national education authorities, the workshop was closely followed by his excellence Youba Mamadou Diallo, Minister of Secondary and Higher Education and Scientific Research. Its success was reported in an interview during which the minister stressed that through this initiative, the Head of State’s project of rehabilitating all laboratories in the country’s secondary schools can be achieved.