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Intel helps Pakistan students improve science literacy

Published on 29th Feb, Edition 9, 2016

 

Pakistan Science Foundation recognized Intel ISEF as the leading science program

While economic indicators for Pakistan position the country as a regional leader, education remains inequitably distributed among various income groups and regions in the country.

The Government of Pakistan’s Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) in 2000, reinforced that education is one of the most important factors in helping to promote equitable economic growth and reducing poverty. Pakistan’s vision is to have education for all its citizens.

A strategic outcome of the PRSP is the formulation of the Education Sector Reforms (ESR) Action Plan, which aims to rectify these problems by dramatically increasing education access, particularly for girls, and improving the quality of science education.The Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) is part of the country’s effort to develop private-public partnerships to improve educational quality, access and science literacy.

Challenge Pakistan has a combined primary, secondary, and tertiary enrollment rate of 35 percent of its school-aged youth, according to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), ranking it 165 among 173 countries. Literacy rates (49%) are below those in other South Asian countries with similar levels of economic development. Girls in Pakistan face unequal access to education.

Approach The Government of Pakistan established the Education Sector Reforms (ESR) in 2001 to address these education challenges. The reforms are spread across all sub sectors of education, from early childhood to the tertiary level.

A centerpiece of the ESR is to ensure girls’ full and equal access to education and to achieve high quality basic education. The government encourages the formation of private-public partnerships, such as Intel ISEF, as a way to achieve its goals in education reform, particularly in science education.

Intel ISEF helps students in Pakistan build necessary science inquiry skills that help prepare them to compete in a 21st century global economy and become future innovators. The program contributes to improved science education at secondary and upper secondary levels, which serves as an important gateway to professional and higher education.

Case study

The program promotes high-quality education for girls by providing project mentors for all students, regardless of gender. Case Study Pak Intel International Science and Engineering Fair The Pakistan Science Foundation has recognized Intel’s science fair as the leading science competition in the country.

Sixteen-year-old Fatima Shami lives with her family in Islamabad and was studying for her O-levels at the Islamabad Convent School when she decided to develop a project for Intel ISEF.

In describing herself, Fatima said, “I really like people who want to help others and make a difference in the world. Personally I want to help special people and make their lives as normal as possible.”

Fatima set out to discover through her research whether reused oil is harmful to human health. Approximately 1.5 billion people in South Asia consume fried foods that are usually cooked in reused oil. “No one had ever tested this oil for its harmful contents formed due to its reuse,” said a cook. The shopkeepers and vendors keep using the same oil to cook these foods. I tested samples of reused oil both from home and the market, and found out there was 100 percent abuse of oil samples taken from the markets. I also found out the effects on oil caused by its reuse and about the different toxic chemicals formed and the diseases they cause.

 

“I was helped by Dr. Zaheer Ahsan from the National Agricultural Research Centre (NARC) in Islamabad, who assisted me in the analysis of samples of reused oil. I used books, research studies, the Internet, and students [for my survey]. Next I would like to do a detailed research to investigate polymerization in edible oil under local situations and try to invent a chemical additive for increasing the oil’s capacity of reuse.”

She traveled to Phoenix, Arizona, and competed against 1,400 young scientists from more than 40 countries. In commenting on how the Intel ISEF “I have started observing things more carefully and trying to understand how they actually work. Now I know how to write a proper research paper, around me.” The program has also affected her plans for the future. “My goals in life have cure to common cold by developing a vaccine.

I am planning to get my Ph.D. at Harvard University and want to win a Nobel Prize for my country. I am Pakistan’s Education Sector Reforms (ESR) agenda acknowledges that the accumulation of human capital is just as important as the accumulation of physical capital for sustaining development. The plan states that in the absence of a healthy and literate population, it will be increase in productivity. With the reform effort, the government is committed to improving access to education services that enhance the human capital of the poor and enable them to generate income through asset utilization and gainful employment.

The Pakistan Science Foundation has recognized Intel’s science fair program as the leading program in the country, in 45 countries worldwide, reaching millions of participating students.

Upcoming a crop of young scientists in Pakistan

Young scientists from all over the country compete in district, provincial, and national competitions to qualify for a place at the Intel ministries of education have supported the Pakistan’s Ministry of Education support includes funding the travel and allowance expenses for students and teachers who are attending the workshops and fairs.

Workshops and science fairs across the country reach out to more than 2,500 students in grades 9 through 12 and 500 science and math teachers on an annual basis. Approximately eight research workshops are held each year to educate students and teachers about research-based learning and Intel ISEF. Four district fairs and four provincial fairs feed into the National Science Olympiad, which is the only fair in Pakistan the competition secure a slot to compete.

In 2006, the Federal Ministry demonstrated its support for the National Science Olympiad by committing US$65,000 over three years to support the event. Intel ISEF will continue working with the Pakistan Science Foundation to introduce 500 science clubs in schools across the country and train facilitators in these schools on the Intel science curriculum.

The program will improve the quality of projects participating in feeder and available to the students, through involvement of community experts, the private sector, and new universities.

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