Need for science education

IN THIS developed era, science education has got an envious niche in the world of knowledge. Undoubtedly with all our science activities we recognise science as the most important subject for our next generation and trust the best way for children to learn it through engaging them in exciting hands-on activities, providing them with spectacular demonstrations, encouraging them to participate in enquiry-based discussions. Scientific literacy means a broader understanding of basic concepts. It is rooted in the most general scientific principles and broad knowledge of science as the scientifically literate person keeps facts and information on certain issues. But a certain group of academicians appears uncomfortable with this definition of scientific literacy as they argue that science education should expose students to mathematical rigour and complex vocabulary. They want everyone to experience this taste of real science. This notion arguably does not appear sound, rather advocates of this concept confuse the two important but separate aspects of scientific knowledge. It is strongly observed that some scientists, who appear focused in one area, lack scientific literacy. Surprisingly, intense study of a particular field of science does not necessarily make one scientifically literate. This could be quite possible that most of the PhD degree holders are ignorant of the difference between DNA and RNA – the most basic idea in modern molecular biology. In most of the cases, scientific literacy is confused with technological literacy – the ability to deal with everyday devices such as computers and VCRs. Technological literacy is important to many pursuits in modern society, but it is distinct from the definition of scientific literacy. By any measure, the average Pakistani is not scientifically literate, even having a college degree. The problem, of course, is not limited to universities; even Pakistani high school and middle school students fare when compared to the students in other developing countries on standardized tests. The scientific literacy can be important based on three arguments – a) from civics, b) from aesthetics and c) from intellectual coherence. Science educators are providing ways to improve science literacy. The problem appears to be as candid as it is and the need for a solution is real. Fortunately, science educators the world over have graciously spent the last decade in finding solution to this basic problem, and now a number of solutions are at hand. Science resources are many and easily available to the public and they need to get benefit it and share in the adventure of science. The vision is very clear and smooth. In order to emphasize the learning of concepts and principles through inquiry, the authorities must positively reshuffle their priorities and set their track for hand-on experiences especially for the young generation.

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