Science Olympiad in Bangladesh
With one thousandth part of land mass of earth Bangladesh is the 7th largest populous country on earth that gives shelter to 24 times as much of the population on earth. It does not seem to be blessed with mentionable physical resources as well. The only surplus it has been burdened with is population unfortunately not developed yet to be resources for the country. So the only way the country can embrace success, follow the path of progress is develop its human resources. In this 21st century a country abounding with huge natural resources need not necessarily be considered as developed as it has happened in case of Arabian countries. Japan, with almost no natural resources, has come out of the ashes of the second world war to become one of the very advanced countries only through empowering its population with the knowledge and skill of science and technology. Korea has also been following the footprints of Japan and is turning into a developed country although some 50 years back it was in the same belt of development as our land was, even they used to come to our land for higher education.
In Bangladesh very sadly education is not getting any priority. In spite of every Government's demand of the highest budgetary allocation the hard fact has been expressed in the following statistics: “ Korea spends US$175 per head for science and education, Malaysia spends US$155, India spends $14, Pakistan spends $10 and Bangladesh spends $5.”
Once upon a time good students used to follow science stream. Now in Bangladesh it is no longer true. Science education is losing its glamour and popularity. Bangladesh Academy of Sciences, being apex body of scientists of all branches of the country, is very worried about this state, and has been taking initiatives to change the course.
BAS organized the first workshop on science education in 2006 at Dhaka University with teachers from schools and colleges, made recommendations for improving science education including how science equipment can be made from indigenous materials. It again organized BAS-AASA-FASAS Science education workshop during 9-10 October, 2009. Following recent successes in Olympiad activities across the country that is inspiring many students and guardians participate with enthusiasm BAS decided to organize science Olympiad for students. Leaving room for different professional societies, like Bangladesh Chemical Society is organizing Chemistry Olympiad, to organize Olympiads in respective fields BAS has decided to organize on a broader title of science Olympiad. With the hope of attracting students and institutions on a regular basis as similar events of advanced countries do ( the William Lowell Putnam Mathematics Competition is held on the first Saturday of December every year in USA) it has also fixed the dates. BAS Divisional Science Olympiads will be held in different centres on the 2nd Friday of January whereas winners will be joining BAS National Science Olympiad on the 4th Friday of January. This year the divisional science Olympiads were held at Begum Rokeya University, Rangpur, Rajshahi University of Engineering and Technology, Khulna University of Engineering and Technology, Chittagong University of Engineering and Technology, Dhaka University of Engineering and Technology, Shahjalal University of Science and Technology, Daffodil International University and Southeast University. Olympiad activities started in the morning with the raising of National and BAS flags followed by a 2-hour examination on interesting science problems. Students were then served lunch/snacks, then assembled for an open session to get their thirst of knowledge satisfied by academicians. Olympiad activities ended with the Prize Distribution ceremony and announcement of those who qualified for the BAS National Science Olympiad. Most of the centres could attract near 500 students. Guardians were also found to take keen interest through their appearance in the Olympiad venue.
Winners of divisional Olympiads participated in BAS National Science Olympiad held at BUET on the 4th Friday. This was a three hour contest. After the contest students participated in a question answer open session where fellows of BAS Professors Mesbahuddin Ahmed, Ali Asgar, QA Fattah, Aminul Islam and Professor Md Zafar Iqbal participated and illuminated students on different branches of science. BAS President Professor Shamsher Ali and BUET Vice Chancellor AMM Safiullah spoke in the prize distribution ceremony.
While this year the Olympiad activities were limited to junior and secondary groups there has been a growing pressure for opening yet another group for higher secondary group. BAS is committed to allocate necessary funds and resources for organizing this Olympiad every year the same time with the hope that our young kids will be science-oriented, will be able to find scientific explanation of the events around them, will enjoy doing science, will apply their knowledge for making a better self sufficient and advanced Bangladesh.
(Fellow, faculty BUET & Bangladesh Academy of Sciences)