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Committee on Teaching Chemistry

Number: 025/43/91

Title: Small-Scale Chemistry

Coordinator(s): M.E.M. Pestana, J.D. Bradley, and M. Cosandey

Remarks: Interaction with UNESCO, UNECA, ICSU

Increasing sophistication of chemistry and decreasing financial resources for education are both trends which tend to reduce the extent of practical work offered in formal education, especially in developing countries. Most chemists agree that practical work is vital for motivation and interest. Hence the declining capacity to offer practical experiences is probably a cause of low interest in chemistry and of the lack of chemically skilled people in these countries. The effects run deep because when teachers lack practical experience themselves, they are unlikely to be strong, effective advocates for the necessary funding. In the same way newly developing areas of chemistry often get no practical expression, because the teachers and lecturers lack the knowledge and skills to initiate anything. Practical experiences that are provided thus tend to become ossified. Creative groups in a number of countries have been tackling these problems. CTC has an important role to play in helping disseminate the ideas, techniques and teaching resources generated by these groups for their own students. Publications, workshops and conferences in different regions and languages, will be fostered. Local lecturers and teachers will interact with experts and generate appropriate regional strategies. In the long term this will be an important contribution to the vitality of chemistry teaching in developed and developing countries.

A special issue of the International Newsletter on Chemical Education (no 45), published during 1997, was devoted to articles on this subject. An exhibit of several examples of the equipment used was mounted at the General Assembly in Geneva, August 1997. A memorandum of accord was signed with UNESCO, CIFFERSE and RADMASTE during 1997 to promote dissemination of the idea. Flowing from this, workshops have been conducted in Kenya, Bulgaria, Namibia and Lesotho using equipment from the RADMASTE Centre.

> Continuation: Project 2001-046-1-050

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