November 10th is marked as the World Science Day for Peace and Development with global efforts to recognize different aspects of science, technology, innovation and mathematics.
The day highlights the significant role of science in society and the need to engage the wider public in debates on emerging scientific issues. The theme for 2018 is “Science, a Human Right”, in celebration of the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and of the Recommendation on Science and Scientific Researchers.
Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, the body responsible for coordinating activities on such a day, astonishing progress made by science in recent decades has changed lives. “This right is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which celebrates its 70th anniversary this year, but it is only when we use this right to join and support scientific endeavours that we can transition to stronger science and reinforce scientific culture in our societies.”
“Public policies should foster greater inclusion of groups of persons currently in the minority in the scientific community. Women in particular are under-represented in what are known as the STEM fields – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – and account for only 30% of researchers in the world today,” Azoulay said in the official message for the day.
He said the Recommendation on Science and Scientific Researchers published in 2017 by UNESCO reminded States and all those concerned of the conditions that need to be met so that science might be a factor of peace and sustainable development, which include ensuring excellent training for researchers, enabling the free flow of knowledge and fostering international cooperation.
The African Academy of Sciences (The AAS) and partners will celebrate by awarding seven inaugural early career African researchers with an AESA-RISE postdoctoral fellowship. AESA-RISE is the Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa – Regional Initiative in Science and Education. A three-year postdoctoral fellowship that supports the training of postdoctoral researchers in Africa. With an initial US$2 million funding from the Carnegie Corporation of New York (CCNY), the AESA-RISE fellowship seeks to deliver the next generation of Africa’s research leaders studying critical issues impacting sustainable development in Africa.
The AESA-RISE researchers were selected through a rigorous and competitive selection process after responding to a closed-call application process where 87 alumni of the Science Initiative Group (SIG)’s RISE programme were invited to apply for the fellowships. RISE has for a decade prepared PhD- and masters-level scientists and engineers in sub-Saharan Africa through competitively selected, university-based research and teaching networks. The seven
The trainees will receive funding to tackle antimicrobial resistance, discover drugs for cancer and skin diseases, contribute knowledge to conserve woodlands and develop low cost alloys used for military and civic applications, aircraft, bicycles and medical devices. They will benefit from three to six months research visits and mentorship at institutions outside their African host institution. These visits will include to institutions, such as the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences, the Univeristy of Liverpool, Cambridge-Africa Programme at the University of Cambridge, the Africa Oxford Initiative, the African Research Universities Alliance, the International Science Programme at Uppsala University in Sweden, and the University of Basel in Switzerland in the framework of the Swiss – African Research Cooperation (SARECO).
“Through the AESA-RISE programme, The AAS is responding to an urgent need to increase the number of researchers in Africa and to produce knowledge and products that impact lives and livelihoods on the continent,” said Dr Judy Omumbo, The AAS
Gaolathe Tsheboeng, a Botswana-born Lecturer at the University of eSwatini said: “I am pleased to be a fellow of AESA-RISE, which is making an important contribution to increasing the population of African scientists and to support early career scientists like myself to advance our careers and research, so we can contribute home grown solutions to the challenges facing our continent.”
East African Community is on the verge of unveiling its science, technology and Innovation which will guide the community on research and development. Several forums have been held with the aim of pushing this agenda with regional commissions of science and technology spearheading this under the auspices of East African Science and Technology Commission (EASTECO).
EASTECO’s overall objective is to promote and coordinate the development, management and application of science and technology to support regional integration and socioeconomic development.
The EAC Partner States have explicitly recognized the importance of Science Technology and Innovation for socio-economic development in the relevant provisions of Treaty establishing the Community.
Last month, EASTECO held a Regional Stakeholder Workshop to discuss the how different National Councils or Commissions of Science and technology within the EAC were handling local STI policies in their countries and how this mirrors the Regional Science, Technology and Innovation Policy.
In some of the EAC partner states, the national STI policies are under a review process. Some of the key challenges hampering the development and implementation of effective STI policies in EAC Partner States are inadequate funds for the implementation of national STI policies, lack of up-to-date, reliable data and indicators on the current status of S&T, lack of indicators and support mechanisms for innovation.