Promoting Science Education in Secondary Schools (PSE) Project
Background and Rationale :
Bangladesh generally suffers from a low-level of scientific literacy compounded further by a sharp decline in the number of school students enrolling for science. In 2001, 264,000 students appeared for the secondary school Certificate (SSC) examination from the science group whereas this number decreased to 200,000 in 2006. The decline in science enrolment also accompanied with a slide in the quality of science education. Along with the shortage of teachers resulting from the low numbers enrolling for science studies, factors such as a weak curriculum, low quality textbooks, poor teaching and assessment methods, inadequate incentives for teachers, and lack of trained faculty and laboratory facilities have contributed to the decline in quality, as well as for the disinterest and phobia towards science. The inadequate or lack of laboratory facilities in schools is particularly conspicuous in Bangladesh’s science education system. It is estimated that eighty percent of rural schools have no laboratory facilities.
Existing Situation :
The overall enrolment rate at primary and secondary schools in Bangladesh has increased significantly over the last two decades but in the same period the quality of education, according to education experts and practitioners, has decreased drastically. Planners have struggled to formulate educational policy to keep pace with global developments in science and technology, while the number of science students in Bangladeshi schools, and at higher education level, continues to fall. It may be worth noting that the falling trend in science students is matched by a rising trend in Business students. The number of Secondary School Certificate (SSC) candidates under the Science Group category fell from 264,100 in 2001 to 176,880 in 2008. At the same time, those from the Business Group rose from 129,821 in 2001 to 239,441 in 2008. Similar trends are seen at Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) and university entry/degree levels. Statistics of the National University shows that 5.4 percent of students enrolled in Bachelor of Science courses in 1993, but the rate declined to 4.6 percent and 3.3 percent in 1994 and 1995 respectively. Hence, the number of science students is falling at all stages with the situation being comparatively worse in rural areas.
A study, conducted by the Bangladesh Freedom Foundation, shows that 66% of schools do not have laboratories and 80 percent of rural school children in Bangladesh have no access to such facilities. In the few schools that do have laboratories, either too many students vie to use the equipment or the faculty simply bars student access to the laboratories and/or equipment on the pretext that if the equipment is damaged it will be prohibitive to replace. Practical classes for school leaving examinations are supposed to begin from Class IX, but in reality most schools don’t start teaching practical classes until Class X, and mere attendance ensures passing marks. Moreover, students’ enthusiasm for and attendance in practical classes is found to be low.
In national labour market, There is much concern that during their time in school and further education, students are turning away from the study of Science, technology, Engineering and Mathematics. This is a bad omen for our education system as the secondary level education is considered as the gateway to the higher education. Presently, Science and Technologies (ICTs) is getting more and more importance around the globe. But in our country the opportunities of studying science and science oriented professional education is waning gradually. If the situation goes on, secondary schools will face the shortage of science teacher in future. Besides, Bangladesh will face scarcity of skilled human resources in essential sectors like agriculture, industries, medical etcetera.
Overall Goal :
The project aims to popularize science among rural secondary school students through student led out-of-school activities in science and technology.
- Enhance and extend attainment in, interactions with and experiences of Science among secondary school students
- Initiate student-led ‘Science Clubs’ that provide space for discussion and experimentation on science.
- Encourage student to lead and manage the activities of the clubs themselves, with some guidance from their teachers and support from the partner organizations.
- Improve collaboration between local schools to enhance the overall quality of education at the region
- students are intended to spark inspiration and to foster long term interest in subjects like physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics etcetera
- Improvements in practical skills, self-confidence and thinking skills of students
- Initiate and guide extracurricular activities in schools and improve collaboration between schools
- Sensitize regional and national level policy makers, media houses and civil society through advocacy.
Location area and rational of the area selection:
The project areas include in present days –
- 30 educational institutions (High schools, Madrassa) under Kushtia Sadar Upazila.
Major Activities :
The project intends to form science clubs in schools. The clubs will bring together three groups of people, students as direct beneficiaries and school authorities and educators and parents as secondary stakeholders.
i) Conducting baseline survey in project schools.
ii) Science Club activities
- Promote student interest in science.
- Carry out practical experiments from school textbooks using low-cost science kits.
- Organize discussions, science fairs (at School and at district/upazila level, inter-class and inter-school competitions etc.
- Encourage peer to peer learning.
iii) Community/ Guardian mobilization
- Organize guardian meeting
- Discussion meeting/ workshop with local civil society and journalists.
iv) Media mobilization
- Workshops for local/ national media sensitization
- Progress sharing meeting with the national level media (BFF)
- Talk show/ program of science education in electronic media (BFF)
v) Policy maker/ Civil society mobilization
- Workshops for forming civil society platform
- Provide a platform for interested educators to instruct on topics outside the school curriculum.
- Sensitize regional and national level policy makers, media houses and civil society through advocacy (workshop/ seminar).
Implementing Strategy :
With support of Bangladesh Freedom Foundation, the Partner NGOs will provide schools and other organizations with motivating science club activities to run in schools, backed by training for club leaders. The entire project will make bridge among students, teachers, concerned guardians and Go-NGO agencies working with education to improve quality of Science education in secondary level education. Partnership with Local NGOs, students, guardians and members of school management committee directly or indirectly would be a key component of the project strategy.