Using mobile learning to enhance engineering and science education
Rovani Sigamoney | Presentation (PDF)
‘If engineering’s role is more visible and better understood, more people would be attracted to it as a career. Now and in the years to come, we need to ensure that motivated young women and men concerned about problems in the developing world continue to enter the field in sufficient numbers. It is estimated that some 2.5 million new engineers and technicians will be needed in sub-Saharan Africa alone if that region is to achieve the Millennium Development Goal of improved access to clean water and sanitation’ (UNESCO Engineering Report, 2010).
Can the use of mobile-learning in science and engineering stimulate the interest of youth in these subjects so that they pursue careers in these fields? Can the use of appropriate technology in engineering be taught in developing countries through mobile learning? These are questions that the presentation will attempt to answer with examples of UNESCO's work in Member States as well as specific projects with partners.
The steady decline of enrollment of young people in engineering and science is a cause for concern; it is in this endeavor that UNESCO’s work in Engineering and Science Education aims to make a difference. In a world that is increasingly shaped by science and technology, mobile learning greatly enhances as well as aids the spread of science and engineering globally.
Engineers are a vital profession in addressing basic human needs, in alleviating poverty, in promoting secure and sustainable development, in responding to emergency situations, in reconstructing infrastructure, in bridging the knowledge divide and in promoting intercultural cooperation. But, despite the social and economic importance of engineers, there is increasing concern that declining enrolment in engineering studies will have consequences for future development.
For more than 45 years, the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP), a UNESCO Category I Institute, has been a driving force behind global efforts to advance scientific expertise in the developing world. Working together with ICTP, science and engineering workshops on mobile learning have been established by lecturers from developing countries and are presented at universities in the developing world, especially Africa. This has also helped enhance the curricula of science and engineering, by training the teachers.
Under the Assistant Director-General of Natural Sciences, Rovani Sigamoney runs the UNESCO Engineering Initiative (UEI). The UNESCO Engineering Initiative was created to promote engineering education at the secondary and tertiary levels and to highlight the roles and accomplishments of women and youth in the engineering field. Through showcasing how youth are taking on contemporary engineering challenges and how professional engineers are shattering gender-based stereotypes, the UNESCO Engineering Initiative is inspiring the next generation of engineers.