DYSFUNCTIONAL science laboratories or their downright absence at our educational institutions are true indicators of the trajectory of our research and development in the field of science. It is hard to believe how science subjects are taught by separating theory from practical exposure.

Science in layman terms is simply defined as observation of the surrounding environment, and to discover the hidden or lost laws of nature. How is it possible to make the most of the teaching of science without inculcating the spirit of empiricism and research in science education?

Our students, who study science as a major subject, do not know anything of Archimedes’ eureka moments and serendipitous flashes beyond the landscape of their reasoning faculty. At our educational institutions, science laboratories are rarely used to explain experimentally the theory of various scientific laws and principles.

Consequently, students do not even know the names of apparatuses and tools used in experiments. Then, as a cover-up machination, rote learning becomes quite a handy tool to top the educational grades at school and college levels. Consequently, students are deprived of hands-on experience, which is a prerequisite for the study of science.

It is no rocket science to trace where all this rot starts. In the beginning, lack of funds hampered the provision of fully equipped laboratories at educational institutions, discouraging the management and the teachers from optimising the use of such laboratories. Then started the phase of mushroom growth of small schools in every lane and street to cater to the educational needs of the ever increasing population. Such schools did away with the laboratories altogether for obvious reasons. Even the relevant authorities were partners in this crime as they did not force these schools to have equipped and functional laboratories.

But the actual mindset hampering progress in the field of science in the country is seen in institutions that have fully equipped and functional laboratories present. The problem is the unwillingness and demotivation of the teachers and the managements to make use of the facility by teaching science on practical grounds. Demotivation is there because everyone knows that marks in practical examinations are obtained in any case because they are supervised by the subject teachers themselves.

A nexus of awarding grades to students without requiring them to actually perform experiments dictates the scene involving all the relevant stakeholders. This unscrupulous practice of securing marks in practical examinations through iniquitous means must be abolished at the earliest. This is nothing but sheer professional corruption and pedagogical dishonesty.

No foolproof method has been developed yet to stem this rot. Policymakers have badly failed in coming up with any remedy to motivate the stakeholders for tapping into the practical faculty of students. The sooner it is admitted that teaching of science without experiments is detrimental to and wastage of human resource, the better it will be.

Evidently, functional science laboratories can instil in students the heuristic approach and the power of observation which are indispensable to study the scheme of nature and the mysteries of the universe. We can earn respect in the comity of nations only when we put in our share in global research and human development in the field of science.

The world acknowledges that the Muslims had ruled the field of science till the 13th century. The names of the Muslim scientists of that golden era, like Alhazen, Avicenna, Geber, Rhazes, Al-Biruni, Averroes and countless more, echo in the Western world even today. Various science theorists believe that research has been an important part of the DNA of the Muslim world, and they are keen to see us have some sort of renaissance. Only functional science laboratories and their optimal use on a sustained basis can hope to trigger the process, if at all.

As remedial steps, practical examinations must be given weightage equal to the theory part, and practical examinations must be conducted fairly under some extraneous testing system.

The provision of the infrastructure and allocation of funds for these laboratories and their constructive and sustained utilisation must be ensured through chartered accoun-tancies and motivated regulatory bodies.

M. Nadeem Nadir
Kasur

Published in Dawn, December 6th, 2022

Opinion

Editorial

A grave tragedy
Updated 08 Feb, 2023

A grave tragedy

It is hoped that Pakistan continues to send as many personnel and relief goods as needed to Turkiye, Syria.
Pharma shutdown
08 Feb, 2023

Pharma shutdown

IN the midst of an economic and political maelstrom, a fresh crisis threatens the availability of drugs in the...
PSL season
Updated 08 Feb, 2023

PSL season

PSL has provided a launching pad for several of the team’s current stars, and for them, hitting top form will be key.
No pardon for rape
Updated 07 Feb, 2023

No pardon for rape

Cultural filters and biases can often lead to faulty applications of the law.
Health insurance
07 Feb, 2023

Health insurance

THE planning ministry is reported to have raised objections to Punjab’s flagship universal health coverage...
The people’s demands
07 Feb, 2023

The people’s demands

AS the people of KP are literally on the frontline of the battle against terrorism and violent extremism, they are...