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Resolution on Universalizing Good Quality Science Education

The All India People’s Science Congress held at Bangalore 1n May 2015  from 22nd to 25th May 2015, has conducted an in depth discussion on the question of Universalizing Good Quality Science Education (UGQSE).

After the enactment of the Right to Education Act (RTE 2009) and the notification of NCF 2005 as the curriculum framework for the whole country, ‘good quality’  education has explicitly become a legal and justiciable right of more than 200 million  young Indian citizens. NCF 2005 provides a strong definition of ‘good quality education’ , stating that ‘equality of opportunity’ is not enough. Good quality education is that which delivers ‘equality of outcomes’, and enables every child to overcome the inequality of opportunity into which he/she was born.

UGQSE is a thus a stronger requirement than mere promotion of good quality science education. It means ensuring that every child is getting science education of good quality. It means every child becoming comfortable with and competent in science. It requires a much greater commitment and organized effort than at present, by all stakeholders.

All India science campaigns like TOV 2004 and 2012, IYA 2009 and Eyes on ISON, science promotion networks like All India People’s Science Network and Vigyan Prasar , science communication bodies like Nehru Science centres, science museums, etc., science teacher’s associations, active teachers forums in different states , science institutions like IUCAA, IIASc, NCRA, HBCSE etc.,  NGOs working in science education, progressive schools, outreach departments of science, agriculture, engineering and medical institutions etc., government education bodies at the central and state levels, etc. have created and constitute, a distributed collective of human resources which can work together for UGQSE.

Though more than four years have elapsed since the coming into effect of the RTE Act, the question of UGQE has not been taken up with sufficient seriousness . Hence the need for a  systematic and planned effort at both the state and national level.  The AIPSN is convinced that such an initiative is feasible, given existing active networks of resources in every state, beginning with the voluntary participation of thousands of active teachers.

Good quality science education can be made possible at a mass level by enabling children in every class in every school  to make interesting toys, perform interesting experiments with self constructed equipments, interacting with and exploring the real world, the Universe - understood broadly as the cosmos , our planet, our environment and human society. There exist repositories of hundreds of such WOW! activities. UGQSE can be initiated by systematically including dozens of the best WOW activities in the curricular practice. For science learning the WOW!  must be taken further to WHY? and HOW?

The slogan of “Universalizing the Universe” proposed by the AIPSN during IYA 2009 was launched at a national workshop held in Bangalore in 2008, and it is of continued relevance for the universalization of good quality science education. There is a very rich science learning environment around every school, especially rural schools which can be explored in depth for science education.

The AIPSN resolves to help set up a platform for taking forward UGQSE consisting of thousands of active teachers and science learning practitioners. It is decided to share knowledge about, and to initiate a time bound process to further survey, this wealth of resources and to make a preliminary selection of best practices and best experiments keeping the following criteria in mind:

  • Is it age appropriate?
  • Will the children enjoy it? Does it have WOW?
  • Does it take students to WHY and HOW?
  • Is it building self confidence ?
  • Is it using low cost self constructed materials?
  • Does it cover the syllabus content for the grade ?
  • Is it suitable for self study ?
  • Does it facilitate critical thinking and the understanding of the scientific method ?
  • Does it promote scientific temper ?
  • Is it encouraging  students to engage with contemporary problems like environmental protection, equity and sustainability?
  • Is it developing a spirit of self reliance in the students?
  • Is it easy for the teacher to use?
  • Does it take us to a modern understanding of the subject and show us how this understanding has evolved?

This preliminary selection of ‘best activities’ will be tried out by hundreds of active teachers and students in an initial phase of about one year. The  validation of the UGQSE package of activities as above  will be conducted not by a small committee of experts, but by the organized feedback of these hundreds of teachers and students, through a rating process, where the practitioners rate each activity after actually trying it out, on each of the selection criteria. Through this process a set of activities with the highest ratings will stand out, and emerge as a  ‘tried and tested’ UGQSE package for wider use. In addition, feedback on possible modifications and extensions of these activities would also be documented. All of this feedback will be collated and made available to everyone.

Thus all the participants in this distributed collective for UGQSE are envisaged as members of a ‘scientific community’. They will contribute improvements and innovations to the UGQSE package  of activities/inquiry which will also be evaluated by the community on a continuous basis.