Raissa Malu

Representation Matters!

Science videos hosted by Congolese people allow their compatriots to recognize themselves, and to get closer to science.

May I ask you to take a minute to look at the faces on the cover photo of this post? These are some of the people who produced the Learning at Home videos and participated in the activities of the 7th edition of Science and Technology Week.

Last week, Dora Muanda and I had our traditional end-of-edition Science and Technology Week debriefing conversation. During these conversations, we "do again" the event. We discuss what worked, what didn't work so well, and we laugh a lot to relieve the stress. This edition was no exception, even though it was held at a distance.

Science Village

What traditionally makes the success of the Science and Technology Week is the Science Village with its exhibitors and scientific animations. If you have never experienced it, I strongly invite you to join us in Kinshasa in 2021 for the 8th edition (if coronavirus or another has not by then decimated the world!).

You must see thousands of students of all ages who flock to the Science Village, who religiously listen to the exhibitors and participate cheerfully in the animations. They (exhibitors, animators and visitors) meet, ask questions, marvel, amaze, discuss, broaden their horizons and learn.

A replacement video program

We are so sad that we didn't have a Science Village this year... But we are proud of the alternative we then developed, the Learning at Home with Science and Technology Week program.

While discussing, Dora and I touched on one point, the impact of our videos. We are preparing a knowledge evaluation system that we will submit to the public to see if the audience actually learns by watching our videos, but that's not what I want to talk about.

White men

While preparing the videos, we had been struck by the fact that scientific Youtubers are still mostly male + white! I invite you to pass the test.

Write a query for scientific, technical or popular science videos on YouTube to find out. Far be it from us to sink into communitarianism, but it remains challenging!

Importance of look alike

We know today that the lack of representativity is a limiting, even excluding factor for children (and adults), girls and boys. This is why the Science Village's scientific animations are carried out by students from schools in Kinshasa that we train for this purpose.

When visitors, both adults and children, participate in scientific animations made by pupils, girls and boys, who look like them, who look like their children, who look like their pupils, it has an impact on their representation and it plays favorably on their confidence in their own ability in these technical and scientific fields: "if he or she can do it, it means that I can do it too!". We have not done a systematic study, but the testimonies we collect, as well as the behaviours we witness, express this.

No aggregation

For the Learning at Home program, in front of the emergency, we could have been content to gather free (or paid) educational resources developed under other skies. Basically, no one would have held it against us.

This is what projects often do. Besides, we like to repeat that "we shouldn't reinvent the wheel" (which would have been invented by others) and that, after all, "mathematics is the same everywhere", right? And yet, it makes a huge difference!

Congolese welcome

I open a parenthesis. We, Congolese, have a certain modesty tinged with resignation (beware of the caricature). Faced with a solution coming from elsewhere, we are of premium on board welcoming (usually, not to offend).

We will not necessarily or clearly express the inadequacy of the solution, but behavior will say a lot (I apologize already to sociologists who might find my remarks here somewhat naive, they only reflect my personal experience). End of the parenthesis.

Congolese scientific Youtubers

We wanted to keep the same spirit as the Science Village for the Learning at Home program. We brought together teachers and Congolese experts to produce endogenous didactic sequences. We have thus initiated a network of Congolese scientific Youtubers with a majority of women!

The quality of our videos has been awarded by the Belgian association of biology teachers, Probio, which launched the "The Best Teacher of the Universe" competition, a "Corona touch" competition, where they awarded Dora Muanda the Palm for the best technical quality for the Life and Earth Sciences (LES) videos.

Promoted by the Ministry

At the national level, the Learning at Home program has been promoted by the Ministry of Primary, Secondary and Technical Education through the Education Project for Quality and Relevance of Education at the Secondary and University levels (PEQPESU). The World Bank, which finances this project, has agreed to fund the production of videos of the science learning area for the 6 years of secondary education.

All these videos are included on the pioneering Congolese e-learning platforms KlasRoom Eteyelo and SCHOOLAP. They will also soon be integrated into the VODAEDUC platform of the VODACOM DRC Foundation.

Extension in Central Africa

We have also shared the program and our expertise with a team in the Central African Republic that wants to adopt the same process with their teachers.

I invite you to watch and review the videos of the Learning at Home with Science and Technology Week program on our YouTube channel Investing In People ASBL.

Ministry Channel

And I invite you to see the videos produced by the Ministry of Primary, Secondary and Technical Education on the PEQPESU YouTube channel.

Let's be clear, I don't claim that this program is a panacea and that it solves all the problems of representativity, but it is an excellent start that we can all be proud of for the Democratic Republic of Congo and for Africa.

Science is fun, join us! 😉

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