Schools take limited or no interest in science based co- curricular activities that could help develop students’ interest in studying science and their scientific outlook.
Academicians said that schools were seldom seen holding their own in-school science fairs.
Science Olympiad, a team competition in which students compete in events relating to various scientific disciplines, also turned out to be a distant dream ‘for our schools,’ they said.
They find it quite puzzling that there was a serious dearth of initiative in holding debates and quiz shows on contemporary environmental issues or the relevance of computer in day to day life.
In this context, they find the National Education Policy 2010 quite out of place with its avowed stress that schools ought to hold science fairs and Olympiads in order to popularize science and mathematics among their students.
Absence of these co-curricular pursuits, they said, confined science education to studying textbooks alone with little practical exposure that could widen their horizon.
They said that the teachers and the parents attach no importance to co-curricular science activities due to their total concentration on results in exams held by education boards.
Shortage of laboratories and apparatus, they said discourage study of science and, therefore, was reducing the number of learners opting to take science at secondary schools.
BUET professor M Kaykobad said that he finds high sounding declarations for spreading science education in this country as nothing more than ‘lip service’.
Education officials and the school authorities take no interest in science based co-curricular activities, said Education Policy 2010 formulation committee co-chair Qazi Kholiquzzaman.
‘Science based and other co- curricular activities are neglected areas in Bangladesh,’ he said.
A study by Bangladesh Bureau of Educational Information and Statistics done in December 2014 reveals that the country’s 75 per cent schools and madrassahs don’t hold science fair, 87 per cent don’t organize science debates, 91 per cent don’t hold science exhibition.
For the study, BANBEIS interviewed 100 science teachers of schools and madrassahs.
School authorities not only lack the interest in science related co- curricular activities, they also show little interest to send their students to science programmes organized by the Bangladesh Academy of Sciences and National Museum Of Science and Technology, said officials.
NMST curator (academic) Sukalyan Bachhar said that but from the students living in district towns few of them from the outlying areas take part in science fairs organized by the museum.
Teachers think that sending students to science fairs is a waste of time.
Parents develop apathy out of fears that participation in science fairs would lead to poor performance in board exams, said Sukalyan.
He said that preoccupation with private tuition leaves little spare time to science teachers to help their students prepare for science fairs.
Out of the country’s 1.25 crore secondary school and madrassah students, hardly 8,000 participate in science Olympiads organized by Bangladesh Academy of Sciences.
Students lost interest in science education due to acute shortage of laboratories, science books and science activities at schools, ’ said BAS director Mohammed A Mazed.
Director general of secondary and higher education SM Wahiduzamman said that the government was trying to increase science education facilities.
He refused to make any further comments on the issue.
Campaign for Popular Education executive director Rasheda K Choudhury said that most of the schools lack laboratories.
Even if laboratories and equipment are there in select schools, students are denied access in them, she said.
Both Rasheda and Kholiquzzaman said that studies revealed, ‘our education system is exam centric and guardians are in unhealthy competition to ensure that their children get GPA 5.
Rasheda, Mazed and Kaikobad said that for science teaching schools still depend on traditional teachers who discourage students’ participation.
The nation is bound to face a bleak future unless greater attention was paid to popularize science education among the students, they said.