Science popularisation still a dream

Popularisation of science is nothing else than an endeavour to image scientific ideas in such a way that everyone, especially non-scientists, can grasp the fundamental concepts and have an idea of what science in essence is. Although nobody can tell exactly what science is all about, everyone should have an idea anyway. West, Europe and other developed states especially of Far East Asia have well adopted this approach and achieved an envious position in this particular field. In fact, it did not happen overnight. Governments, public sector departments, research institutions, universities and even individuals played a contributory role through strong collaboration and joint research projects. In Pakistan, the situation is otherwise. The question at stake here is whether this is possible to ensure science popularisation, and, if so, to what extent. There is a simple rule that things can be done if done in a proper way or if there is any practicable mechanism. A few organizations especially Pakistan Science Foundation have been established in the country with the mandate to promote and popularize science culture. Theoretically, yes, they have the mandate and they claim to work with this specific focus but on ground there is no tangible progress as awareness about science as a field is yet to reach the common people who constitute a major portion of the population. In fact, the issue of science popularization has so far failed to grab attention of the authorities concerned, courtesy their other “more important priorities”. This discouraging approach can be witnessed in other departments, institutions as well as public sector universities like NUST and International Islamic University. Though these institutions claim to have committed to the mission of science promotion, yet this is also a fact that they never have any budgetary allocations to arrange activities and projects in this regard. Amid all these negativities, there has been a good initiative taken by the Pakistan Science Foundation in recent past years under the title of Science Caravan. Main purpose of that programme was to arrange science caravans, exhibitions, contests and other activities at school and college level across the country. Of course, it yielded positive results, as it had practically involved a large number of students and faculty members in targeted cities. However, it was discontinued perhaps due to the shortage of funds or change of top leadership in the PSF. The ministry of science and technology needs to rise to the situation and reprioritise its policies if we, as a nation, want to see the country on path of real progress.

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