Unsatisfactory performances at school level, coupled with the low output of qualifications at tertiary level in this field, are good indicators that the education system does not yet adequately prepare pupils for challenges beyond school in the Mathematics and Science fields.
Traditionally, Science and Mathematics were regarded as being extremely difficult and boring subjects and we believe that these myths have negative psychological impacts and implications on the over-all performance of the subjects. This problem requires a holistic approach since there is no single cause, but rather interactions of all shortcomings. There are several efforts in upgrading the Mathematics and Science teacher qualifications and competencies, increasing the numbers of adequately qualified teachers and hence improving learner performance. However, an intervention to demystify the myths surrounding these subjects being difficult and boring is essential.
In order to address some of these challenges, the Commission will continue to devise programmes aimed and promoting science and technology in Namibia.
This event is organised annually with an aim of providing a comprehensive, multi-facetted, interactive programme made up of some national and international keynote addresses, illustrated talks, workshops, short courses, competitions, demonstrations, displays, exhibitions, sport science events and field trips, to enthrall and inspire our budding young scientists (and their educators!).
Promoting science, technology and innovation to the public has served as an eye-opener to many people. During career fairs and shows people seem very amazed by what science, technology and innovation actually are and that it’s not necessarily that unexciting and abstract subjects that they experienced in school. There is need for people to touch and feel science, technology and innovation, to take apart and rebuild, to test and to experience what fun science, technology and innovation could really be. Interventions such as Science shows, Science festivals and Science films will provide the ‘explorer’ with ample opportunity to satisfy their need to discover.
National Science Fair
This event is organised annually in collaboration with the NamPower Foundation. The purpose of the Science Fair is to popularize science and technology among our students, community and educators. It is a vehicle to encourage student, parents and teachers to take a more active interest in the study of science by providing an opportunity for students to conduct and publicly present an independent scientific inquiry.
The aim of the National Science Fair is to:
To stimulate interest in young people in science, math, and engineering;
To provide educational experience through participation in scientific research;
To give public recognition to learners for the work that they have done;
To encourage inquisitive students to explore their environment in a systematic, logical manner; and
To stimulate students interest in science and technology while simultaneously promoting the development of the life skills of communication, decision making, evaluation of alternative solutions, and critical thinking.
Winners of the National Science Fair also participate annually in International Science Fairs such as the Eskom Expo for Young Scientist.
National Research, Science, Technology, Engineering and Innovation Awards
There is a general decline of interest in Science, Engineering and Technology worldwide, and in order to reverse this trend, different strategies targeting root causes of this phenomenon are implemented including promoting Science, Engineering and Technology through recognizing the positive contributions made by scientist, researchers, technologist and engineers and organizations working in these areas.
Therefore the purpose of this Award System is to promote and create awareness of the important role that Science, Engineering and Technology plays in the economic and social prosperity of the country, through valuing and appreciating contributions of individual scientist, researchers, technologists, engineers and science institutions while the guiding principles will be Fairness, Equity, Gender sensitivity, Quality and Sustainability. The awards system intends to acknowledge science and technology institutions based on outstanding achievements in the field and noble initiatives promoting a science and research culture in Namibia.
The Operational Guide of the National Research, Science, Technology, Engineering and Innovation Awards has been approved and endorsed by Cabinet in 2014.
Science Demonstration Centres
As Namibia’s priority is to increase the number of students pursuing careers in science and technology, the Science Centre project through the demonstration and interactive learning approach can provide an interesting and stimulating environment for learners as well as general public to appreciate aspects of science and technology in a leisure and entertaining manner.
The central focus of this project will be to advance the concept of edutainment through the educational experiences that include a hands-on, minds-on and hearts-on interactive exhibitions, science shows, demonstrations etc. This is an all-inclusive manner in which a learner engages all the aspects of his/her being, in order to learn, remember and most importantly to apply the information they interact with. This in a long run will transform in positive attributes that includes transformation to positive attitudes and behaviour towards science and technology in general.
The Science Demonstration Centres project comprises two components, namely the design and development of a fixed National Science Centre in Windhoek, and the Mobile Science Centre to take science to the rural schools and communities.
Space Science and Technology Awareness
Namibia is celebrated for its vast open landscapes – clear skies and minimum light pollution. Its immensity of open skies makes Namibia an ideal place for institutions working in the field of space science and technology to set up various kinds of stations in Namibia in order to study the Universe.
The People’s Republic of China has set up a Space Science and Technology Exhibition Hall at the TT&C station in order to inspire the Namibian public’s enthusiasm for this field. In order to enhance interest and participation in this area NCRST will provide various awareness activities and information to the Namibian public. NCRST hopes to reach out to the Namibian public to encourage them to learn more about Namibia’s role in space science and technology and to increase the number of students pursuing careers in this field of science.
One of the objectives is to develop a project and strategy documents for optimizing the utilization of the Exhibition Hall at the TT&C station.
The Biggest Brainer Science Quiz Competition
The Science Quiz Competition is a unique and exciting approach to motivating, inspiring, encouraging and rewarding children in their quest for knowledge and providing them with the opportunity to showcase their scientific knowledge.
A Science Quiz Competition provides innumerable benefits to learners, which encourage their educational and even social development. Participation in a science quiz competition stimulates learner’s interest in science and technology while simultaneously promoting the development of the skills such as communication, strategic thinking, team work, and lights the fire for knowledge.
Student decisions about study and career paths are primarily based upon interest in a particular field and on their perception of job prospects in that field. Positive contacts with science and technology at an early age can have a long-lasting impact.
The pilot phase of this competition has been completed successfully in the selected regions. The competition will be rolled out to all regions of the country in 2016.
Mathematics and Science Computer based Learning Centres
This project has been building capacity and upgrading the abilities of senior level school goers in order that they enter tertiary studies with a more advanced level of understanding Mathematics and Science fields. The pilot centre has been based in Windhoek but now that the viability has been assessed, further centres are being established throughout Namibia. Three centres in Keetmanshoop, Katima Mulilo and Khorixas respectively have also been established.
The training product used is PLATO software that is internationally recognized as an accredited computer based learning tool. Plato was developed in America by the Roach Corporation in conjunction with the University of Illinois but has been adjusted for Southern African conditions. Plato courseware is ideally suited to a variety of learning situations, such as alternative education, school to work programmes, workplace training and retraining endeavours, adult basic education developmental studies, and employment preparation programmes. Whether presented in an instructor independent setting, as a supplement to a mainstream programme, or as an advanced course offering, PLATO courseware can meet the needs of a wide range of learner populations.
The following centres currently have being established Rundu (Kavango East region), Keetmanshoop (||Kharas region), Windhoek (Khomas region), Khorixas (Kunene region), Gobabis (Omaheke region), Ongwediva (Oshana region) and Katima Mulilo (Zambezi region). The business plan are being finalized for all centres including the future of the project.
Women in Science, Engineering and Technology
At the beginning of the twenty first century, women remain a minority in the scientific disciplines. Women have trickled up through the system for at least a decade and yet we seem to be no closer to equality. Far fewer women are successfully engaged in scientific enterprises than would have been expected given the increasing numbers of women in the workforce. Thus measures should be taken to improve the current position of women in science, engineering and technology.
NCRST realize that now the challenge is to devise a more effective project for capturing and advancing women in the scientific hierarchy. In order to inculcate a positive attitude, activities must be put in place to instil the idea that women, can be successful in careers in science, engineering and technology, while they are still students and help them attain it.
The mission of the Women in Science project thus is to encourage more women to enter in science, engineering and technology by creating and fostering a supportive academic and social climate that will aid women in pursuing a career in science. This project is established to address the under-representation of women in science, engineering and technology.
The draft Charter for Establishing the Namibia Women in Science, Engineering and Technology Chapter is currently in the process of being approved by the National Commission on Research, Science and Technology.
Science and Mathematics Education Research Capacity
This project focuses on the strategies, mechanisms and resources that are necessary to foster and sustain a pervasive and positive orientation to research in Science and Mathematics Education. The characteristics of a strong research culture are relatively well known. Apart from the requisite physical, organisational and communication infrastructure, they refer primarily to the orientations of people involved in research. While some institutions struggle to develop positive orientations towards research, all institutions are faced with the challenge to develop, sustain and rekindle a research culture, especially in the face of increasing demands on academic staffs to perform well in all three core functions: teaching, research and service.
The objectives are: the professional development and capacity building of those involved in managing education research and innovation systems; promotion of best practice in the management and administration of research to create value for science education, value for stronger education research and innovation system and the contribution it can make to economic and social development. It furthermore advocates appropriate national and institutional policy in support of education research, advancement of science, technology and innovation, including addressing the asymmetries in access to, and diffusion of knowledge.
Academy of Sciences
An Academy of Sciences is an organizational body that participate in discussions, co-ordinate scholarly research activities, set standards for academic disciplines and provide independent views and comments on contemporary science issues in a country. Typically the country's learned societies
in individual disciplines will liaise with or be coordinated by the national academy. An Academy of Sciences plays an important organizational role in academic exchanges and collaborations between countries.
An Academy of Sciences plays a pivotal role in:
Using the common ground of scientific knowledge and activity to remove barriers between people and obstacles to full development of their intellectual capacity;
Endeavours to inspire, promote and recognize excellence in scientific and technical practice;
Investigating and publicly report on various matters, in its own discretion or at the request of government or organizations in civil society, in order to promote and apply scientific thinking in the service of society;
Promoting science education and a culture of science in the population at large;
Maintaining strict independence while consulting other organizations and individuals in the widest manner possible;
Endeavours to establish and develop close relations with scientific organizations in Namibia and with similar academies in other countries; and
Taking any other action that it may consider necessary towards the attainment of its key objective.
The vision of NCRST is to create an academy for the advancement of science and technology and dedication to their use for the general welfare of Namibia.