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Science for All and The Kevin Xu Initiative at University of Chicago launch the Pune Science Festival

 

Program showcased science learning of students from low-income public schools in Pune and hosted a panel discussion with the former science advisor to the Prime Minister of India and the founder of the India's largest education nonprofit, Pratham.

Science for All and the Kevin Xu Global Initiative on Science, Technology, and Inequality at the University of Chicago launched the first ever Pune Science Festival on 24th March, 2018. The festival was organized in collaboration with Fergusson College and the Pune Municipal Corporation. It brought together leaders from academia, civil society, and industry. The event celebrated the power of scientific ideas and highlighted the challenges and opportunities to improve science and math education in India.

A panel discussion conducted as part of the festival with Dr. Raghunath Mashelkar (Chair, Reliance Innovation Council and former member of the Scientific Advisory Council to the PM of India) and Dr. Madhav Chavan (Founder, Pratham and former member of the National Advisory Council to the PM of India) centred around the theme of ‘Inclusive Innovation in India: Why Science for All is an imperative’, was moderated by Dr. Abhilash Mishra (Founder, Science for All). “India has 1.3 billion minds. What is stopping us from channeling these minds towards innovation is our mindset. I don’t like the mindset of jugaad, because it implies a lack of aspiration for excellence. What India needs to aspire to instead is excellence that is both affordable and inclusive“, said Dr. Mashelkar during the panel discussion.

“What is at the heart of a good science education is development of a scientific mindset, of using evidence and reason to make decisions in our day-to-day lives. A good science education should focus on building such a mindset in the younger generation”, said Dr. Chavan. Both panelists highlighted the importance of having inspiring teachers to shape a scientific mindset amongst youngsters. Science for All foundation is working towards creating this pool of inspiring teachers.

Science for All foundation runs the Science Education Initiative Fellowship, which recruits and trains science undergraduates and postgraduates to be world-class science educators for low-income classrooms in India. Piloted in collaboration with the Pune School Board the program has trained over 200 Fellows over the past four years and impacts over 4000 low-income students. As a part of the Festival over 100 students trained by Science for All fellows from PMC schools put on a science exhibition at Fergusson College.

In collaboration with the Kevin Xu Global Initiative on Science, Technology, and Inequality at the University of Chicago, Science for All plans to establish the Science for All Education Innovation Laboratory in Pune. This will become a hub for designing evidence-based approaches to improving science education in India and training the next generation of science educators and leaders through fellowship programs.

The Pune Science Festival aims to become an annual event that brings together the larger Pune public as well as leaders from academia, civil society, and industry to address the challenges and forge solutions to improve science education and fuel technological innovation in the country. While India has attained almost 98% school enrollment in the past two decades, students lag behind dramatically in scientific skills necessary to thrive in a technology-driven economy. According to a recent Brookings Institution report, at the current pace, it would take 100 years for the scientific skills of an average student in India to catch up to that of an average student in a developed country today.

“Science and technology are shaping our world in fundamental ways. It is important that everyone has the opportunity to thrive in such a world. Our goal at Science for All is to make scientific progress equitable in India”, said Priya Pethe the Co-founder and Director of Operations of Science for All (India).

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