Overview: Science and Astronomy in Southern Botswana

Inequality between remote area dwellers and others has long been a problem in Botswana, especially concerning basic education. Distances are great and conditions make equal distribution of resources uneven, a condition exacerbated by the pandemic. Teachers in rural areas live in tents and are often deprived of minimal tools for teaching, let alone introducing young pupils to basic sciences and astronomy. Lack of transport and resources erodes the motivation of both pupils and teachers precluding the access to decent education and work. There is need for a change in paradigm in the science education in rural areas, introducing ad hoc solutions to empower teachers and inspire young people that will be the future generation of scientists.

Our aim is to organize a week-long event in the Machana (Southern Botswana) rural school to promote science education for teachers and pupils alike. We will provide school teachers with practical training in basic science experiments, and most of all astronomy for practical use with their students. Emphasis will be on enabling teachers, mostly young women, to carry on with practical science and astronomy instruction with simple tools that can be used and replicated in other rural schools. In particular, we will provide school with science experiment kits including a small telescope and a basic microscope. Demonstrations of how to use this equipment will be conducted during a full week of events and training. Our team has 15 years’ experience in science education and will provide the logistic base for the event including a 14” telescope for star gazing events.

Machana primary school was selected for this pilot project as it is facing serious challenges as indicated by local government officials. Machana primary school has 242 students and 13 teachers. We believe that students will be motivated and teachers will receive extra training while the school will obtain a small telescope to guarantee sustainability of these kinds of events.

Contact: FULVIO FRANCHI franchif@biust.ac.bw