Although Gabon counts with a very high enrolment rate (about 94%), the country faces an alarming deficit in science graduates. Promoting science education is a major focus of cooperation between UNESCO and Gabon, initiated by the Permanent Delegation of Gabon to UNESCO. This priority has been confirmed during the recent visit of UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova to Gabon, where she met with President Ali Bongo Ondimba and the Minister of National Education, Higher Education, Technical Education and Vocational training, in charge of Culture, youth and Sports, who made a strong appeal for science education in the country: “Gabon wants the best”.
Since Gabon joined the UNESCO Global Microscience Experimentation Project in 2001, several trainings of trainers took place in Gabon and at the Centre of Microscience Excellence (CEM) in Cameroon.
At the 191st session of the Executive Board, the Permanent Delegate of Gabon to UNESCO filed a motion on behalf of his country, under the heading “Miscroscience for girls in Gabon”. The Director General has provided 90,000 USD to the UNESCO Office in Libreville to fund the implementation of activities related to the teaching of science, including the Global Microscience Project.
It is in this context that UNESCO organized a training workshop on the Global Microscience Experiments project from 16 to 19 September in Libreville. An exhibition on the Sciences was held in parallel. To celebrate the International Year of Water Cooperation, educational poster on water recycling were offered to the National Pedagogical Institute for science classes in schools in Libreville. This successful exhibition will be renewed by education authorities in celebration of the World Science Day for Peace and Development and during the Second International Workshop on Chemistry in November in Libreville and the Masuku University in Franceville.
Fifty educators, including school inspectors and science teachers took part in the workshop. The organizers paid close attention to gender balance; 50% of participants were women. Participants discussed the teaching materials during the course of the week. They also performed many experiments in the fields of biology and chemistry, including the electrolysis of water, dosage and an experiment on electrical circuits. At the end of the training, participants focused on the development and adaptation of methodology forms for the training of trainers. The various science kits were presented in order to enable school educators and teachers to create their own “Gabonese kit”. The highlight of the workshop was the development of its own Microscience textbook by the National Pedagogical Institute (IPN), with the support of UNESCO.
The workshop, highly anticipated by national education authorities, was followed closely by Gertrude Boundono Simangoye, General Inspector of the Services Department at the Ministry of Education. Ms. Boundono was officially assigned to represent the Minister of Education. In her speech for the opening ceremony, she stressed that the UNESCO Global Microscience Experiments Project is perfectly in line with the President of Gabon’s commitment to provide all secondary schools with science laboratories and create a science class in pre-primary and primary schools.