INTRODUCING CAFÉ SCIENTIFIQUE EAST AFRICA
Café Scientifique East Africa is a development of the Cafe Sci Uganda project, which has been running for five years in schools in and around Kampala.
The three-year development project (2014 – 2017), Café Scientifique East Africa, is now underway in Burundi, Rwanda and Northern Uganda (Gulu). The project is supported by the Wellcome Trust (UK) and targets secondary school students and their teachers.
The Café Sci school program is aimed at giving young people the opportunity to meet working scientists from academic institutions, science research and medical centers or enthusiastic science individuals, to discuss new and interesting issues in science and technology that are of interest to them. Café Sci is an informal science program organised by pupils and supported by teachers at the school and happens outside the normal lessons during lunch time, in the evenings after school or on weekends.
The simple, robust and low-cost Café Scientifique model offers a space in which pupils and researchers can develop the skills to discuss important issues with confidence, bringing their personal experiences and expertise to a forum in which they can engage together in respectful, rational and unprejudiced conversation about the issues in science and technology that affect their daily lives.
Such sensible and good-natured discussion, promoted in an informal and friendly atmosphere, helps create a solid base for future citizenship. Through discussion, pupils and researchers learn as much about each other, and the importance of learning to live in a world of different and sometimes contradictory views, as they learn about science.
The objectives of this project are:
1. To train teachers in Rwanda and Burundi to set up and run cafes in their schools; developing 10 cafes in schools in each country, with at least two cafes in each school.
2. To expand the Café Scientifique model for public engagement with science and informal science education in northern Uganda; setting up 30 cafes in schools in this region, with at least two cafes in each school each term.
3. To set up and run a Science Fair in Gulu, northern, bringing together students from 10 schools in the region.
4. To work with university researchers and researcher leaders to develop their understanding of the Café Scientifique model and the role of the speaker in a Café Scientifique.
1. Secondary school pupils and their teachers (approximately 900 pupils and 30 teachers in Uganda; 300 pupils and 10 teachers in Rwanda and Burundi)
2. University researchers and research leaders (approximately 30).
The project is coordinated by Betty Kituyi Mukhalu, who is a science communicator, teacher educator, author, and science researcher.