African and European Academies join forces to improve science teaching in schools

The third AEMASE conference held at the Académie des sciences in Paris on 3-4 October 2017, supported by ALLEA, brought together experts, educators and policy-makers from 30 countries across both continents to elaborate strategies and actions for the improvement of science education in Africa, the Mediterranean region and Europe.

ALLEA, via its Working Group Science Education, participated in the third “African European Mediterranean Academies for Science Education” (AEMASE) conference held in Paris on 3-4 October. Participants presented and discussed a broad range of issues around the topic of inquiry-based science education (IBSE) in schools. Examples of best practise from both continents were exchanged. Delegates particularly sought to further develop and promote an initiative which seeks to implement a coordinated network of international sites called “Centres for Education to Science in Africa, the Mediterranean and Europe” (CESAME) to improve children’s scientific knowledge and intellectual tools, as well as young girls’ inclusion in science.

The conference took place in Paris at the Académie des sciences. Credit: Académie des sciences

In the concluding statement, conference participants point to “the urgency to renew school science education (education in mathematics, natural science, technology and engineering) in order to help all children acquire adequate basic scientific knowledge and intellectual tools for a rational approach to situations, as well as to reach a better inclusion of young girls in science.” This commitment will be worked towards in the CESAME project. The project will initially set up at least two centres in Africa and in Europe respectively where IBSE-based curricula will be used for science education. The objective is to create a collaborative scheme in which science teachers can share experiences and learn from each other how to improve science teaching in schools. Academies and other scientific institutions from seven countries (Benin, Cameroon, Egypt, Italy, Morocco, South Africa and Tunisia) have already expressed their interest in collaborating in this initiative and potentially hosting a CESAME centre.

The conference in Paris is the third iteration of an initiative started in 2014 with the first AEMASE conference in Rome, hosted at the time by the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei and continued in Dakar at the Académie Nationale des Sciences et Techniques du Sénégal in 2015. The project is supported by a number of international academy networks, including ALLEA, NASAC (Network of African Science Academies) and the InteracademyPartnership (IAP). [Read the AEMASE report here]

The event was opened by Jean-Michel Blanquer, Minister of National Education in France, who thanked the academies for their efforts and underlined the importance of international collaboration in the crucial area of science education.

Through its working group on Science Education, ALLEA has promoted the strengthening and implementation of Inquiry-Based Science Education (IBSE) programmes and methods over many years.

Inquiry-Based Science Education (IBSE) is a form of science education that – unlike the traditional model where the teacher provides facts and the students learn them – gives children the opportunity to explore “hands on”, to experiment, to ask questions and to develop responses based on reasoning.

Read the conference programme

Read the final conference statement

Watch the conference panels