Improving science communication, championing formal and informal science education and fostering citizen science literacy are crucial for sustained economic growth and human welfare. Existing national programmes, which have already brought expertise about inquiry-based science education, especially in primary and lower secondary schools in Europe, must also provide teacher professional development in science.
The AEMASE Conference will take place in Rome, Italy, from 19-20 May 2014 at the initiative of 5 prestigious institutions, mostly Science Academies in Africa and Europe. Its venue will be the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei. This high-level event will gather 50 delegations from African, European and Mediterranean countries.
UNESCO will in particular contribute to the opening session and to session 6 Round table - Programmes for SE in the African-European-Mediterranean region, views from institutions and foundations. Yolanda Valle-Neff, Director of the UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe, Venice (Italy), will represent the Organization on that occasion.
At primary and secondary schools, science education (SE) is currently viewed as in a state of crisis, calling for attention in many countries. In developed countries it is one reason of the decreasing appetite of students for careers in science and technology, which risks lowering the level of industrial innovation and imperiling future economies. A sound and attractive SE appears also critical in developing countries, due to its very efficient role in hastening development.
This is why 4 science academies (Académie des Sciences, France; Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, Italy; Académie Hassan II des Sciences et Techniques, Morocco; Académie Nationale des Sciences et Techniques du Sénégal) and the prestigious Bibliotheca Alexandrina are organizing the AEMASE Conference in Rome. They believe that the present social and economic challenges of most countries require an urgent and long-term decisive action to renew SE for young people, with an emphasis on early education at primary and lower secondary school levels when a human being’s curiosity is usually at its highest. For this, they trust that ‘inquiry-based science education’ (IBSE) fostered, among other similar programmes, by ‘La main à la pâte’, is the best pedagogical approach.
The AEMASE Conference will have two goals:
- To foster the concrete dialogue between developed and developing countries for renewing SE
Many successful European programmes have put an emphasis on training teachers to teach science so that they engage in the IBSE pedagogy or similar pedagogical approaches. A highly valuable expertise and good resources on formal SE are available in several European countries. Moreover, in Africa, certain countries have developed successful national programmes for informal SE. The Conference will be a place for peer-to-peer sharing of best practices and resources about formal and informal SE and setting up international North-South, South-South and North-North pooling of experience and resources to launch and continue pilot projects.
- To strengthen in each country the partnership between Science Academies and Ministries of Education for the benefit of the renewal of SE
Indeed, a national programme to renew SE (short- or long-term depending on the country) involves offering professional development to all teachers teaching science, which is a particularly challenging task. It requires a strong commitment and pro-active efforts from many stakeholders in a country, in particular from educational policy-makers. The ambition of the Rome Conference is to create, encourage or empower informal partnerships within participating countries between scientists of Academies and representatives of Ministries of Education for the implementation of IBSE in schools and the development of informal SE for the youth.