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High Level Forum on Inquiry Based Science Education (IBSE)-11 May 2017

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Inquiry-based science education-IBSE is an approach to teaching and learning in general but especially the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects at all levels particularly in the schools. IBSE approach encourages students to learn the nature of science inquiry and to ensure that students truly understand what they are learning. IBSE is about ideas or concepts leading to understanding that grows deeper and deeper as students get older.

As an initiative of ECO Science Foundation (ECOSF), IBSE programmes was launched in ECO region in June 2015 with an IBSE Capacity Building workshop for national programme leaders (including PSF & PAEC Pakistan) in Astana-Kazakhstan. The programme was launched with collaboration and cooperation of national governments/organizations and international partners;viz.,La main a la pate Foundation of France, the International Science, Technology and Innovation Center for South–South Cooperation under the auspices of UNESCO (ISTIC) Kuala Lumpur- Malaysia and the Inter-Academy Partnership (IAP) Science Education Programme (SEP). Subsequently, the national capacity building workshops have since been organized in Pakistan (Sept 2016) and Iran (Jan 2017). More IBSE Capacity Building workshops are planned in the region in 2017 and beyond as one of the flagship project in order to strengthen the science base for advance S&T research and higher education in the ECO member countries.

In this context, ECOSF and Higher Education Commission (HEC) of Pakistan along with ECOSF’s French partner- “La main a la pate” Paris and the Embassy of France in Pakistan organized a High Level Forum on IBSE in Islamabad on 11th May, 2017.

The Forum was attended by around 200 participants from all segment of life; the civil society, educationists, teachers and students from schools, colleges and universities. Some of the key representations were fromPakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) schools, the Science School Islamabad, Sukkur IBA Community Colleges, Federal Directorate of Education, the Planning Commission of Pakistan, Provincial Departments of Education and numerous other potential players including NGOs and Campaigners (Alif Ailaan).

The keynote speaker was Professor Pierre Lena who is one of the three co-founders of La main a la pate from the Academy of Sciences of France. Dr Lena, in his address revealed the importance of curiosity, observation, language, self-confidence and creativity in the field of science education. He was of the view that providing science education to every student is a key to understanding the world, find a personal future, and develop own creativity and talent, foster national development, and avoid the atmosphere of global unsustainability. The short and straight message from Dr. Lena was that science education is the key element for the future of any nation.

Earlier, HEC Chairman Dr Mukhtar Ahmed stated that the premier higher education body has deliberated on creating a base for students in the country’s school system in order to breed creativity at the higher education level. He commented that though the main objective of HEC is to facilitate universities, however, following complaints from higher education institutions, it was decided that HECshould also contribute to improving the quality at the school level.

In his speech Dr. Soomro introduced the guest speaker; Prof. Pierre Lena, Hon. Chair of La main a la pate (LAMAP) Paris with his illustrious career in various aspects of his expertise in sciences and in the field of training of science teachers. Being an proponent of IBSE, Prof. Soomro said that the right decision making and understating always come from critical thinking and for developing critical thinking, Inquiry Based Approach is a strong tool, thus, it is mandatory to promote inquiry among the Children from their schools. For this purpose, it is duty of all the segments of the society (government, parents, teachers, civil society, business community, etc) to support and promote inquiry based science education among the children so that our future generation should be well equipped with power of knowledge. He also hoped that the all the participants of this Forum will contribute in their capacities in the society to promote IBSE.

Addressing the forum, French Ambassador Martine Dorance stressed the importance of promoting science collaboration with Pakistan as one of the top priorities of France.

The forum also included a panel discussion on how inquiry-based science education can be promoted in the educational institutions of the country.During the panel discussion, Dr. Soomro commented that God has granted each individual some unique quality, capability and capacity and it is job of the parents and the society to discover that talent in young individuals and help them to refine that talent. Therefore, continuity of holding such forums has become important, wherein we should be able to discuss various science related challenges and their solutions. The panel discussion concluded as under:

  • More such forums should be organized.
  • Concept of Community Colleges be encouraged and promoted.
  • IBSE methodology for teaching and learning be promoted.
  • Universities, Schools/Colleges and Industry should be linked and networking.
  • Developed for nurturing knowledgeable younger generations.

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