What science can do
If we consider the state of scientific literacy in Pakistan, we can clearly see that sufficient progress has been made in this regard. The number of universities and professional institutes has considerably increased. Many of these institutions have also churned out doctors, engineers, and IT graduates.
The Higher Education Commission (HEC) has played a vital role in facilitating these positive developments by providing adequate scholarships and other opportunities to obtain higher education in the country and abroad at a relatively low cost. As a result, many PhD scholars who have been sent abroad have returned to the country with the latest scientific knowledge and skills. Similarly, NGOs and the civil society have also contributed a great deal to these pursuits and the media has given ample coverage to science-related activities, issues and programmes.
Despite all these efforts, the extent of scientific literacy cannot be deemed satisfactory. Even now, people are living a life that is far removed from the benefits of science.
Before we move further, it is necessary to understand the term ‘scientific literacy’. Scientific literacy doesn’t imply that a person has a degree in a scientific field. Instead, it involves a person adopting a scientific approach towards everyday life. In other words, we can argue that a person who knows what to eat, what to drink, what to wear, how to keep himself healthy and what to do when he/she falls ill is scientifically literate.
The extent of scientific literacy is unsatisfactory in the country. Therefore, the efforts that have been made by the government and other key stakeholders in the fields of food, health, agriculture, public health, energy, forestry and the environment haven’t had the desired effect. Without involvement from the public in this regard, it is impossible to establish a culture of science in society.
It is vital to create awareness about scientific literacy on a mass level through journalism and facilitate a culture of science in the country. This was the sole reason why the Science Journalism Society of Pakistan (SJSP) was established in Peshawar in April 2018.
It is our fundamental duty to improve the quality of life by developing a culture of science in our society. The primary aim of this is to inculcate community development, and use science journalism for the welfare of society to prevent diseases, pollution, climate change, deforestation and the country’s severe water shortage.
Steps should also be taken to ensure the participation of the community in science-related activities through seminars, conferences, workshops and expos. These initiatives will build awareness about the importance of science. Linkages should be created between academia and the media to develop a mutual relationship that can improve people’s lives by focusing on health, the environment, agriculture, forestry, biodiversity, narcotics control and human development.
The media ought to highlight any new research that is being conducted at universities and research centres regarding scientific advancement. Suitable steps should be taken to promote new scientific ideas and developments.
The sole objective of these efforts is to set a new trend in Pakistani society that is based on science. It is widely believed that a country must have a clear and well-defined scientific vision to achieve its aims and objectives. Without this, it will not be able to prepare an effective roadmap for sustainable development.
In the modern world, wealth-creation is an outcome of scientific advancement. Access to science plays a pivotal role in bringing about widespread changes in our society. In addition, science has a significant role to play in improving economies and living standards across the world.