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Science Education in Universities and Colleges

Dhruv Raina

There has been for some time now a growing anxiety about the decline in the quality of science education, especially at the institutions of higher learning; a decline that has been much debated in the press and particularly in the scholarly journals of science that circulate in India. These very journals have published a number of articles that have stimulated a debate, still ongoing, about the decline in the overall quality of scientific research in the country. The apologists for Indian science as well as its critics within the scientific community, concerned as they are about it future development, share norms for its evaluation and sometimes even frames to causally explain this decline. In the midst of this debate it is difficult to fathom the direction in which the arrow of causality points. Is the decline in the quality of scientific research and output to be explained in terms of the decline in the quality of science education and the devalorization of the image of science in society, or vice versa. This debate is further complicated by the growing crescendo in the media on the rise of Indian science to the status of a world scientific power.   This essay does not, or cannot attempt to make sense of the confusing messages that reach out to the science consuming public, miniscule as it might be. However, there are certain global trends and their local manifestations that have given science educators cause for concern. Over the past couple of decades, there has been a decline in student enrollment in the pure science courses. This phenomenon has seeded a number of efforts to promote an interest in science education, but it might be rather too soon to tell whether this has had any effect. Nevertheless, as far as Europe and America are concerned this decline in student enrollment in the sciences has not resulted in the decline in the quality of science education either at the graduate or post-graduate levels. Some nations have initiated efforts to ensure that the mathematics content of some science courses at the undergraduate level is softened in order that students are not discouraged from taking science courses. This presumes that it is forbidding mathematics that is responsible for the decline in student enrollment in the sciences. This is certainly not the case, in the light, at least in India, of the enrollment in technological education.   In India on ...

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