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Media’s role in promoting science and scientific education in Pakistan

Forman Journalism Society and Alif Ailaan (Pakistan’s campaign for education reforms) organized a panel discussion titled ‘Media’s role in promoting science and scientific education in Pakistan’ at Mass Communication Department at Forman Christian College University.

The purpose of the event was to start an informed conversation among the students of journalism and mass communication regarding the role media can play in highlighting science related stories. The panelists included Dr Mudassir Hussain Shah (Professor of Mass Communication at FCCU), Adil Arshad (Assistant Professor of Education at FCCU) and Syed Moayeed Ali Jafri (Journalist).

The panelists were of the view that Media can play its role to promote scientific culture in society. At the same, they were of the view that media shouldn’t be solely blamed for lack of coverage as there is no demand from public at large for such news. Speaking at the occasion, Adil Arshad said that there is a gap in the academic discourse and laymen understanding of science, and academia could should take this responsibility of bridging the gap between the two narratives. Moayyed Ali Jafri said that ‘infotainment’can be a good way of promoting science and maths through shows, documentaries and dramas (on the life of scientists) – a practice already happening in western world.

Roohullah Gulzari, regional campaigner of Alif Ailaan presented statistics about the status of science and maths education in Pakistani school from the recently published report ‘Powering Pakistan for the 21stCentury’. The statistics portray a grim picture of education system as there are 22.6 million children out of school. Moreover, Pakistani schools (especially government schools) are producing unacceptably low levels of learning outcomes in maths and science. In the Punjab, the 2016 Punjab Examinations Commission (PEC) results show that average maths scores for Class V are 53% and the same for science is are 48%. These results show that students in schools across the Punjab consider science, followed by mathematics, as the most difficult subjects where they achieve lowest scores.

Speakers pointed out that divisional authorities should establish linkages with state and civil society initiatives and organisations who could organise science fairs and melas which could promote interest for masses in science and scientific education. Other recommendations included establishment of science libraries and museums facilitating spread of scientific knowledge in general as well as in particular fields of studies such as astronomy and mathematics.

Web Desk. Media’s role in promoting science and scientific education in Pakistan. Daily Times, March 24, 2017.

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