Another Sunday evening recently found me fuming through another science infotainment show as they abound these days on not-so commercial broadcasts. It made me think about how important science education is in development and how easy it is to do it wrong. Popular science education is essential, and not only in development. Climate change is one of the most obvious issues where people need to understand what’s going on and need to understand it fast. Health issues are another area where a better understanding of scientific principles can contribute to behavior change that could promote better public health. What I tend to see around, however, is not as useful as the producers may think.
A U.S. congresswoman from Arizona was shot. The Hollywood Foreign Press was handing out Golden Globes to the entertainment industry. The White House was preparing for a visit from China’s president. The people of Southern Sudan were announcing preliminary results of a vote for independence from their Northern counterpart.
All of these headline events are worthy of attention. One event that did not make a headline is the one that will forever be embedded in my memory. It’s a development worker’s dream come true. After years of advocating for the rights of young women and girls, of fundraising to make education accessible to females in a traditionally patriarchal society, and of dreaming about a world where girls feel free from oppression to express their opinions and beliefs with confidence, I received an important phone call.