We cannot teach children science; we can only help them experience it!

International Week of Science and Peace (9th-15th November 2016)
Photo Credits: CEMASTEA / Photo Editing: ADEA

In the words of Henri Poincare, “An accumulation of facts is no more science than a heap of stones is a house”, the need to train teachers as agents of change is considered very crucial in the process of developing the science culture for national development towards peaceful societies. Young people are full of energy, ready with why questions, with an urge to create and innovate. The 21st century demands from all us to make personal and corporate decisions that are informed by science. The quest for solutions hinge on what science knowledge is relevant and reliable in a given situation, and how that knowledge was created and its limits. All these aspects inform what climate and culture that mathematics and science classrooms should embrace.

The developments in the modern world are all products of scientific innovation and invention. For instance communication, medicine, electricity, technology, among others are by-product of science. Learners ought to be taught science and mathematics that makes sense to their daily interactions for them to find applicability. This results into one living productive and fulfilled life that help enhance peaceful citizenship.

The mathematics and science culture of citizens begins in schools and classrooms. The focus of teacher capacity development programmes should therefore be innovative classroom practices that put the learner at the centre of the learning process with a view to help them experience mathematics and science. Teachers are trained to give learners an opportunity to discover science, rationale why they learn science, the applicability in everyday life through hands-on, minds-on, hearts-on, mouths-on and interactive mathematics and science workshops. In the course of such lessons, learners evaluate, critique and respond to data generated as scientific evidence that help build confidence to be productive and therefore peaceful citizens.

In view of the foregoing, the Centre for Mathematics, Science & Technology Education in Africa (CEMASTEA) in partnership with various organizations and development agencies implements needs-based courses for teachers with a view to transform mathematics and science classroom practices that translate into national development.

The role of science and technology in promoting peace and global citizenship cannot be over emphasized. Science and technology education provides the most suitable environment for the exercise of problem-solving and critical thinking which are critical for peacebuilding. The cooperative learning approaches in science lessons promote the spirit of team building and appreciation of differences as learner’s process varied views to accomplish a task. On the other hand, scientific discoveries and technological discoveries have contributed some of the most destructive weapons of war in the world ranging from the long-bow, landmines and nuclear weapons.  

The Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA) facilitated the establishment of the Inter Country Quality Node on Peace Education (ICQN-PE) and that of Mathematics and Science Education (ICQN-MSE) which are both hosted by the Ministry of Education Kenya and are now working collaboratively to enhance peace through CEMASTEA. Some of the activities that have been proposed include:

  • Integrating peace education sessions in the national  training programme  for  teachers in science and mathematics;
  • Integrating Peace education sessions in the SMASE Africa Programme.