Maths, Science Essential

| May 13, 2015

With the country experiencing a shrinking labour pipeline and growing need for skilled workers, it is critical for Botswana to transform from resource to knowledge based economy.

Director of Pre-University Programmes Unit at Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST), Dr Haniso Motlhabane, said this in Gaborone on May 11.

Botswana, he said, could not only depend on natural resources as they tended to get depleted, but getting knowledgeable in Mathematics and Science subjects would assist the country to reach its destination.

He said it was high time Batswana develop interest in Mathematics and Science subjects. A g mathematical and science base was crucial, as it could help drive the national economic transformation, he added.

Dr Motlhabane said in an effort to diversify the national economy from a resource based to a knowledge economy, the country has recognised science and technology as engines of growth.

Dr Motlhabane said although the country was moving in a slow peak, the desire was for Batswana to be innovative as other nations, particularly Japan.

The country needed qualified researchers hence the need for students to have a positive attitude towards Mathematics and Science subjects to help transform the economy.

However, Dr Motlhabane expressed disappointment that performance in Mathematics and Science as indicated by national school leaving examinations (PSLE, JCE and BGSCE) had proved to be consistently wanting. “In the last seven years, there had been a downward trend of performance in these subjects,” he stated.

He said would continue providing a challenge in leveraging on science and technology for national economic development, This, he added also poses a threat to BIUST whose mandate is capacity building in Science, Engineering and Technology as well as research capable of bringing about innovation in that a constant flow of qualified Mathematics and Science students is required for the available programs.

Dr Motlhabane stated that at BIUST they drive the development as it makes a contribution to defuse the fear of Mathematics and Science subjects.

He highlighted that Mathematics and Science subjects are part of everyday life, saying “everybody is mathematical” and that almost everyone performs a basic mathematical situation like calculation on daily basis.

Dr Motlhabane noted that they were engaged with the Africa Science Circus initiative to get people to experience Mathematics and Science subjects in a positive way.

With Africa Science Circus, he said, different groups of people including students and the community could play with science and Maths and get to appreciate it as well as have fun.

He also stated that BIUST and Ministry of Education and Skills Development have collaboration with Australia National University, Australia’s National Science and Technology Centre (Questacon). The collaboration aimed at supporting Botswana’s efforts in dealing with longstanding underperformance in Mathematics and Science in pre-tertiary public education through initiatives such as science circuses.

Furthermore, he said in a globally competitive economy, ‘investing to ensure a pipeline of workers skilled in Science and Maths competencies is a workforce and economic-development issue.’

He added that the best way to ensure a return on these investments was to start fostering these skills in young children.

“Young children are natural-born scientists and engineers.

They have the ability to explore, question, and build” hence the need to nurture the high-quality early-learning environmental structures, he said.

BIUST, he said, would tour the country performing science shows, conducting staff training and showing teachers how ordinary items could be used to teach extraordinary science, through exposure, play and interaction with natural phenomena.

Places to be covered include Gaborone, Jwaneng, Kang, Palapye, Francistown and Kasane.

The shows aimed at creating an appreciation of Mathematics and Science among students, teachers and the general public so as to cause a paradigm shift in the perception of these subjects.

In schools and public venues, the Circus will bring science and technology to life using a hands-on exhibition, exciting science demonstrations and teacher workshops using everyday materials, he said.

Source : BOPA

Source : Botswana Daily News

Category: News

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