In Israel, military and science training is essential and mandatory for every citizen. They have integrated science with day to day activities, like other European countries, and that is why they are leading in every sphere of life. In coming decades, science must top the agenda of developing and underdeveloped countries if they have to reach at par with other advanced countries; and progress in science is possible if society shows great passion towards science.
I remember one small episode at Sao Paulo airport back in 2011 when I was heading towards Buenos Aires (Argentina) to attend 23rd WAAVP conference. A Brazilian man was playing football with his little kid on the main balcony of airport which reflected their passion for football. Soon we observed other people also joined them. Later, one of our delegates from Brazil told us that people in South America, especially Brazilians are so passionate about football that for fun they even play football in marriage parties. This passion has earned them maximum Olympic Gold medals in football, and they have produced the best soccer players.
Science is still perceived differently in our society; some people realize it through the prism of sarcastic looks of scientists in lab coats wearing shabby dresses. We need to realize that science does not prepare us to become a scientist only, but it also provides us lots of opportunities to excel in other fields. The onus is on the science aspirant to foresee various opportunities that are in the offing. In order to maximize benefits from science, one must show extraordinary love for science which is possible by changing our perception and attitude towards science.
Once you have changed your perception, you will realize that science degree is merely not a degree as it offers you plenty of opportunities that can help you express your inquisitive natural talent. For example, by having a deep passion for science, you can become exceptional writer, great speaker, critical thinker, a great leader, creative innovator and most importantly you will be able to unravel hidden enigmas of the universe. In highly developed countries, your skills will be valued and you move from universities and join elite positions in public and private organizations. Let us imagine if we have great researchers who are at the helm of governance, then all the policy decisions regarding people, environment and other socioeconomic issues will be realized in the best interest of people and also taking into consideration the availability of natural resources. A good scientist can be a great teacher as he can understand the needs and demands of his students, and can provide an environment of teaching that is applicable to all types of students (theoretical as well as the conceptual type of students). He can carry out 'Action Research' routinely in his class to transform the inherent capabilities of students into reality. Science can further unravel new roles and avenues for aspirants. There is great demand for scientific methods in various areas ranging from environmental management to communications. It is important to mention that present day world is dominated by technology, which is data driven, and it can be operated only by skilled human resource.
The love for science in students can be developed by making independently perform scientific activities. There is need to allow students to show their enthusiasm towards science, which according to Prof Poliakoff (research professor at the University of Nottingham) will excite them to have permanent bond with science. For accomplishing this goal, there is need to develop a culture of inquiry based learning that will stimulate motivation among students towards science and science based careers. Flexible curriculum is one way to implement inquiry based learning which is though difficult to kick start in our education set-up.
Developing a science culture at all levels of society is a good way to develop a passion for science. In this regard efforts from basic to highest level need to be initiated. In a science oriented society, it will be easy to communicate and disseminate the values of science, and develop the young brigade who are willing to contribute towards science. It is also essential for a scientific community to remain involved with the society and understand their problems. The cooperation and collaboration among scientific community and society is essential for inculcating passion for science.
Dr. Ummer Rashid Zargar is SERB-DST Fast Track Fellow, Department of Zoology.