Thar’s largest two-day science festival for schoolchildren kicked off on Wednesday at Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Cultural Complex in Mithi, to ignite a spark for science and discovery among students in the region, and to promote better quality of learning available in government schools. The festival was organized and inaugurated by Chief Monitoring Officer Samiullah Sanjrani and Deputy Commissioner Dr Hafeez Siyal, in collaboration with Alif Ailaan, Thar Education Alliance, and Pakistan Alliance for Maths and Science.

The first day of the festival attracted a massive attendance of over 3000 students from more than 67 government and private schools of Thar district. Teachers, entrepreneurs, science specialists, government officials and local political leaders attended the festival where students exhibited more than 120 science models displaying their passion for science and technology, and introduced innovative concepts to the visitors.

Interactive displays and live experiments, some of which involved lunar and solar observatories, robotics, and 3D printing, were conducted by six science organisations from across the country. Local maths and science organisations will also be showing their exhibits in an effort to illustrate how to bridge the gap between practical studies and curriculum in schools.

The latest Standardized Achievement Test conducted in Sindh reflects a poor state of maths and science education in Tharparkar, with Class V students scoring 27.38 in science and 30.04 in maths, while Class VIII students scored 26.8 in science and 25.6 in maths. This calls for a greater focus by the political and district government in Thar to organize interventions such as these to sustain their interest in these subjects.

A student from a primary government school in Mithi complained about not having a science lab in his school to work in but said he still managed to make his model entirely on his own. This is, however, the fate of many government schools in Thar.

During his media talk, District Commissioner Dr Hafeez Siyal invited all children in Thar to attend the festival with their parents and termed the event a learning opportunity for Thar’s youth. He visited each stall one by one to hear out what children had to say about their projects and schools.

In the lead-up to the festival, Chief Monitoring Officer Samiullah Sanjrani also organized a maths and science test for grades 4 to 12 in which over 4000 students participated. An award ceremony for students who participated in the test and the models competition at the festival will mark the conclusion of the festival, as a means of encouraging children to take deeper interest in science education. The exhibition is open to public, free of charge, and continues till February 15.