Thousands of children in Swat and were treated to various scientific models and crafts, as the biggest ever science festival in the region kicked off on Tuesday.
Being held at Khadee Hall in Saidu Sharif, the two day Swat science festival has been organised by Udhyaana, Swat Education Department and Pakistan Alliance for Maths and Science to develop an interest in science and discovery among students in the region, and to promote better quality of learning available in government schools.
Malakand Division Commissioner Syed Zaheerul Islam, Deputy Commissioner Shahid Mehmood, Assistant Commissioner Shahab Khan, Nazim Muhammad Ali Shah and District Education Officer Nawab Ali were present among others at the inauguration ceremony.
The first day of the festival attracted a massive attendance of 1,500 girls and 5,000 boys from more than 130 government and private schools in Swat district, besides hundreds of teachers, entrepreneurs, science specialists, government officials and lawmakers. Students exhibited more than 100 science models to showcase their passion for science and technology, and introduced innovative concepts to the visitors.
The event also included interactive displays and live experiments, some of which involved robotics, hydraulics, electrical circuits, and easy-to understand math guides that were conducted by students and six science organisations from across Pakistan, including Learn-o-Bots, Stemmers, Numerica, Pakistan Science Club, AZ Corps and Sabaq.
The event is especially important for Swat, one of the most scenic areas of the country that remained ravaged by militancy for years. The attacks by Taliban were especially targeted at educational institutes, including schools and colleges in the area, and caused irreparable damages to the cause of education of the local population. Swat is also home of Pakistani Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai, who returned to her native home last month to showcase the return of peace to the area.
But Swat is in its recovery phase. Girls and boys are increasingly returning to schools, but challenges remain, especially that of poor learning outcomes. According to findings 40.2% of students in Class 5 able to read a story in Urdu/Pushto, and only 44% of students in Class 5 being able to solve a 2-digit division sum.
But interventions like the science festival can help provide these children with an enabling environment to pursue and absorb high-quality learning, and push for an increased focus on improvements in education, especially maths and science learning inside classrooms, which could prove to be instrumental in Swat’s response to the opportunities available to the city, as well as to the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa at-large.
As part of these efforts, 1036 students under the supervision of National Academy of Young Scientists created the first-ever national record of simultaneously extracting DNA from strawberries, and 955 students made a human chain to represent the structure of the DNA. These records will be published in Pakistan Book of Records.
We sincerely hope the science event acts as an impetus for young minds to explore the boundaries of learning and set themselves on the path of gaining knowledge.