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Nuclear Science Education Programme in Asia Pacific: Looking Towards 2021

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The IAEA Project Team demonstrates how cloud chambers function to educators from the Asia and Pacific region. (Photo: C. Karle/IAEA)

In July 2018, the IAEA launched a capacity building initiative with the ambitious goal of reaching one million students by 2021. Organized as part of an ongoing technical cooperation project[1], the initiative is supplying teachers in the Asia and the Pacific region with the tools to inspire a new generation of nuclear scientists and engineers. Through this ongoing project, which is being implemented in seventeen countries across Asia and the Pacific, science educators are learning how to introduce nuclear and isotopic science into their curricula, and how to demonstrate their benefits to young pupils aged 12-18.

In December 2018, IAEA experts and project counterparts attended a four-day review meeting at the IAEA’s Vienna headquarters, during which they assessed the implementation status of the programme in nine of the participating countries, and reviewed the achievements of two training courses organized under the project in Indonesia and the USA. “As this is the first capacity building project where the IAEA has formally engaged with a secondary education teaching community, the review meeting was crucial to align the efforts of the project’s diverse stakeholders and to ensure its sustainability for years to come,” said Petra Salame, Programme Management Officer for the Asia and Pacific Region in the IAEA’s Department of Technical Cooperation.

The review meeting began by providing its participants with a platform to share experiences, highlight best practices and draw lessons learned throughout the implementation of the project. 

“Hearing other participating countries’ experiences has inspired us to organise long- and short-term training activities to increase the visibility and knowledge of nuclear applications. An already existing information centre at Hanoi University will be used for introducing nuclear applications to the general public,” said Chi Dung Dang, a participant from the Vietnam Atomic Energy Agency (VAEA).

Over 1,300 teachers were trained in 2018 as part of the ongoing project. This amounts to over 162,000 students impacted in one year, roughly 16% of the million-student objective, which the Agency expects to reach by 2021. “This number is an important tool to help predict what must be done in the coming years to achieve our goal of one million students,” explained Jane Gerardo-Abaya, Director of the Technical Cooperation Division for Asia and the Pacific.

"By providing training to secondary school teachers on how to develop ‘nuclear education’ modules, the IAEA is making it possible for thousands of young pupils to discover nuclear science, explore how it is applied, and even be inspired to consider a career in the nuclear field," said Ms Salame. 

“After the first national workshop, which was held in 2017 with the help of the IAEA, the Ministry of Education conducted about 30 workshops at different schools in Jordan, with the help of the Jordan Atomic Energy Commission, in which about 120 teachers and 600 students where trained,” Mohammad Omari of the Jordan Atomic Energy Commission said.

Looking to the future, representatives agreed to organise national workshops in their respective countries in 2019, and to sponsor capacity building activities in the region. In support of these training activities, “the IAEA will procure and deliver relevant equipment to the participating academic institutions, such as cloud chambers and educational survey meters for young students,” concluded Director Gerardo-Abaya.

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

By providing training to secondary school teachers on how to develop ‘nuclear education’ modules, the IAEA is making it possible for thousands of young pupils to discover nuclear science, explore how it is applied, and even be inspired to consider a career in the nuclear field.
Petra Salame, Programme Management Officer for the Asia and Pacific Region in the IAEA’s Department of Technical Cooperation.

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