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Leaders, scholars highlight science education in developing countries at Kigali meeting

The transformative power of improved science education is known, and we must harness it to serve our ambitious goals, for sustainable development and prosperity, said Rwanda President Paul Kagame on Monday.

He was speaking at the opening ceremony of the 27th general meeting of The World Academy of Science (TWAS) in the Rwandan capital Kigali.

Rwanda hosts the high level science conference from 14th to 17th November at the Kigali Convention Centre with an aim of promoting and advancing science education in developing countries across the globe.

TWAS is a global science academy based in Trieste, Italy, working to advance science and engineering for sustainable prosperity in the developing world.

"In the developing world in particular, science plays a critical role in our socio-economic transformation, by helping to narrow the gap between us, and the more developed regions. The World Academy of Science is an excellent example of collaboration at both levels, as well as a clear demonstration of the power and relevance, of increased South to South cooperation," said Kagame.

He noted improved science education and strengthened scientific research capacity, has never been more urgent, particularly in Africa, where it can have a transformational impact, on the pace and quality of development.

"Our continent urgently needs to produce many more scientists and engineers generally." he said.

The four-day meeting has brought together close to 300 participants, including leading researchers and science policymakers, science ministers, leaders from science associations, funding agencies, and non-governmental organizations from more than 60 countries across the globe.

According to Professor Bai Chunli, President of TWAS, educating and training young scientists, building global science networks are areas of strength for TWAS and its partner organizations.

"Better and sustainable science education is foundation for economic and social growth. Throughout the history of TWAS, we have been committed to science for sustainable development. We know that science and technology help developing countries to address human challenges and build more prosperous communities," he said.

Bai noted that globally TWAS has nearly 1,200 members — about 100 in sub-Saharan Africa and TWAS has been a leading advocate for science in sub-Saharan Africa.

"We offer fellowships that fully fund PhD studies and postdoctoral research at major science institutions in the South. TWAS and the Organization for Women in Science for the Developing World." Bai said.

Papias Malimba Musafiri, Rwanda minister of education, said that TWAS has played a crucial role towards promoting science education and research in the developing world.

"We really appreciate Prof. Bai Chunli and his team for their effort to transform science education in Africa and particularly Rwanda for sustainable prosperity of our children’s future. We are proud of TWAS’s role in African progress especially in advancing science and education for a more prosperous and peaceful world" he added.

The meeting will include among others symposia and lectures on chemistry, global epidemics, and the role of social sciences in achieving a more just world. A symposium on astronomy will feature a presentation on the Square Kilometre Array, the world’s largest radio telescope, being planned for South Africa and Australia.

During the opening ceremony, several researchers were awarded with prestigious accolades for their work including TWAS-Lenovo Prize, one of the world’s most prestigious honors for science in the developing world, which went to Chinese materials scientist Zhao Dongyuan.

President Paul Kagame received an award from TWAS for embracing science, technology and innovation for sustainable development in Rwanda and Africa.

The Academy will also announce newly elected fellows and young Affiliates.


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