By Duncan Mlanjira
Malawi version of the Africa Science Week’s Next Einstein Forum (NEF) was concluded with an exhibition science fair held at St. Anthony Community Day Secondary School at Thondwe in Zomba on Monday.
Africa Science Week is an initiative set by the African Institute of Mathematical Science (AIMS) and the theme of the science fair at St. Anthony’s was Igniting the Power of Science where the students displayed various scientific innovations.
After sampling what the learners had on offer, guest of honour, Macauden Msakatiza, who is the Southern Region Education Manager, was very impressed and he commended Next Einstein Forum (NEF), through its Malawi Ambassador, Chikondi Shaba for the educative function.
“The theme, ‘Igniting the Power of Science’ promotes the teaching and learning of science in our schools with more emphasis on the girl child.
“The organisation, the participation of various stakeholders including our secondary schools is very commendable. This deserves to be an annual event and it’s my hope that it will remain an annual event.”
The Africa Science Week activities started last Friday, November 27 with a conference before proceeding to Lilongwe and finally at St Anthony in Zomba.
Msakatiza said: “When you listen to the presenters, you literally see the passion, the interest and love for what science can do.
“Our role as both policy makers and technicians/implementers, is to create a conducive environment for teaching and learning of these students.
“We need to motivate the learners, girl child in particular, we need to encourage them and, of course, support their learning so that they get educated and pursue science, technology, engineering and mathematics careers.
He said the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology has developed and is implementing a curriculum which is science oriented to promote teaching and learning of sciences that should be practical where the learners should be able to apply the science learnt in the classroom, into the real world.
“Government is doing everything possible to make sure learners attain and access quality education which is relevant and meaningful to the development of our country.
“My beloved students, let me share one more thing from the Bible; God created each one of us in His own image. This tells us that we are all equal whether male or female, a girl or a boy, a man or a woman.
“He gave us all the same intelligence. What makes us different is how we use our intelligence; thus wisdom,” he said.
One of the exhibiting students, Fyness Maliko, said she is aspiring to be a doctor and agreed with Msakatiza that science subjects are challenging but not altogether unattainable by girls.
“It’s the same teachers who teach all of us, whether boys or girls. The beauty about science is that it is practical.
“When you are focused in your dream path, everything falls into place,” she said.
At the conference on Africa, it was observed that most school girls in Malawi are not motivated enough to pursue careers in sciences because they do not have role models they can look up to to shape them plan their academic studies towards achieving that destiny.
The conference attracted the academia from Chancellor College, College of Medicine, the Polytechnic as well scientists from Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital, Malaria Research Project, among others — who presented inspirational and motivational science careers talk for the invited girl students from the colleges and two community Day secondary schools, Bangwe and Chirunga.
During the panel discussions, the girl participants were told that the science world has few women practitioners because most girls prefer less tasking subjects.
They were assured that with proper mentorship from some of the scientists they might relate with as role models, they can exude the right mentality and will that can motivate them to compete strongly with their male counterparts.