Speech - ‘ 6th Rajiv Gandhi Memorial Lecture’
Rajiv Gandhi Science Centre - Thursday 21 August 2014
H.E Ms Susan Coles Australian High Commissioner
Prof. Graham Durant, Director, Questacon
Dr. A. K. Maulloo, Director, Rajiv Gandhi Science Centre
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It gives me immense pleasure as the Minister of Tertiary Education, Science, Research & Technology to be present at the 6th edition of the Rajiv Gandhi Memorial Lecture.
This event is a commemoration of the birth anniversary of Rajiv Gandhi – born on 20 August 1944. It aims at promoting science through lectures by eminent scientists. This year, we have in our midst an eminent scientist and science communicator Prof. Graham Durant, Director of Questacon, Australia.
Much of the science we read in books is hard to imagine. Think of electrons in an orbit, DNA double helix, silicon chips, nuclear reactors, tectonicplates, evolution and many others, the world is awesome to experience. It becomes extremely difficult to encapsulate the innumerable scientific phenomena in straight- jacketed textbooks. And, much more difficult for students to grasp the complexities associated with such phenomena.
Science Centres however, lend a helping hand, simplifying complex ideas and explaining them through working models. Science exhibits at such places are unique resources for non-formal education helping develop skills and positive attitude towards science. They not only give wings to our imagination but also provide a better understanding of the world around us. They are places to discover, explore and test ideas about the natural world.
In recent times the role of science centres has been changing. Science centres popularize science by inculcating a scientific attitude among the people. They also present the advancements of science and technology and their applications in industry and human welfare. Mobile exhibitions, seminars, lectures and various other programs organized by science centres help to bring the common man closer to science.
The Rajiv Gandhi Science Centre which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year has been contributing to dissemination of information on science through a wide range of activities, the most popular ones being the Junior Science Adventure, Science Quest, Sky observation programmes, Science Fun Day, National Science Weeks and Junior Mobile Science.
I have been appraised that our distinguished guest from Questacon has already conducted two interactive workshops. The first one was targeted to school students on the theme “ A World of crystals’’ where students had the opportunity to look at crystals and learn different techniques for growing crystals thus participating in the International Year of Crystallography 2014 as declared by the United Nations.
The second workshop was meant for our educators entitled ‘Hands up for hands-on’’ that introduced some of the ways that formal and informal institutions can work together to build a community of learners.
It is envisaged to embark on discussions for the establishment of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Questacon and RGSC for professional development of RGSC staff in the communication of Science and Technology as well as participating and conducting activities and training/workshops/seminars to enhance their knowledge/skills in matters relating to Science & Technology not only for RGSC staff but also professionals from other institutions, the education community and the public in general.
Mauritius has a huge potential for economic growth and Science and Technology is going to play a key role in the economic development of the country. The country needs future scientists, engineers, technicians to work in various fields. The country needs youngsters to develop an interest in science and technology.
In this context Government is sparing no effort to provide the opportunity for every child to access tertiary education. With the aim of transforming Mauritius into a knowledge hub, the government has reiterated its commitment by investing in the International Institute of Technology Research Academy (IITRA) project which will operate with the support of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Delhi.
On this note I wish you all the best and I have the pleasure to declare the ‘Rajiv Gandhi Memorial Lecture’ open.