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Expanding the Reach of Nuclear Education in Nepal by Training-the-Trainers


Teachers are being introduced with the various real-world applications of nuclear science and technology. (Photo: M. Yadav/Nepal Ministry of Education, Science and Technology)

More than 90 secondary school teachers from all seven districts of Nepal gathered in March 2020 to explore and test a variety of innovative tools and methods designed for mainstreaming nuclear science into existing scholastic curricula across the country of 28 million. Organized as part of a broader regional technical cooperation (TC) project[1] which aims to introduce nuclear science to at least 1,000,000 students in Asia and the Pacific, the national training course not only refreshed the nuclear knowledge of the attending teachers, it equipped them with the concrete tools—including lesson plans, soft-skills training and assessment criteria—necessary to transmit nuclear science and ideas to their pupils.

Originally launched in 2018, the ongoing regional project is focusing  its support on national events in order to reach teachers and students in rural, sometimes remote, towns and villages. Reinforced by new teaching tools, this project—the first time that the Agency has formally engaged with the secondary education teaching community—is now bearing fruit, as secondary school children in Nepal learn how nuclear science is used every day around them, to their benefit.

Held in Kathmandu, Nepal, the three-day training course was organized around a series of 12 classroom lectures, beginning by with a review of the fundamentals of nuclear science and their real-world applications. After refreshing the knowledge of the 97 assembled science educators on the principles of radioactivity, the fundamentals of radiation protection and the multitude of industrial and healthcare applications of nuclear science, the lecture series was followed by technical visits to Bhaktapur Cancer Hospital and Bir Hospital, located in Bhaktapur and Kathmandu respectively, so that the teachers could see first-hand how radiotherapy and nuclear medicine are used to diagnose and treat cancers.

Teachers from various secondary schools in Nepal gathered for the three-day training of trainers course for NST Education. (Photo: M. Yadav/Nepal Ministry of Education, Science and Technology)

During the final day of the course, the participating teachers examined strategies for teaching nuclear science at the secondary level, re-evaluated existing teaching methods and developed personalized lesson plans that they could carry out back in their own classrooms.

“In Nepal, nuclear science is the branch of general science which was most being ignored by teachers, trainers, educators and by the education system, as a whole. As science teacher, prior to this course, I must admit I placed less emphasis on these topics,” said Rabina Maharjan, the principal and a science teacher at Saraswati Niketan Secondary School in Kathmandu. “But this course has not only broadened our knowledge of nuclear science, but also energized us to teach nuclear-related topics using child-friendly approaches, to design new teaching materials and to advocate to on behalf of these topics.”

 “This national workshop could be a milestone regarding the development of new curricula, as well as the promotion of nuclear science at the secondary school level here in Nepal,” added Mahesh Shrestha, an IAEA counterpart working at the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology.

Science teacher and training course participant Sunil Thapa said, “The demand for nuclear physicists and nuclear scientists is increasing day by day, and we will encourage and facilitate our students to fulfil this demand by engaging them with nuclear science at a young age.”

“This project aims to empower teachers to prepare and inspire students for the future of nuclear science and technology (NST) through both curricular and extra-curricular activities,” said Gerald Cirilo Reyes, the Programme Management Officer who organized the March event. “The IAEA has outlined the course content for secondary school teachers, but the decision-maker and implementer will always be the local science teacher. Together, experts and teachers can make learning accessible for everyone.”

[1] RAS0079, ‘Educating Secondary Students and Science Teachers on Nuclear Science and Technology’

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