African science network trains scientists, journalists on communicating science

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The maiden edition of African Science Literacy Network`s science communication and journalism workshop focused on building the capacities of African scientists and journalists in communicating scientific research in public media is scheduled for September 9 and 10, in Abuja, Nigeria.

Mahmoud Maina, a neuro-scientist and postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Sussex, UK.

The two-day intensive training workshop is part of Science Communication Hub Nigeria’s initiative tagged: “African Science Literacy Network,” being funded by Wellcome Trust and focused on training scientists and journalists on the different methods of effectively engaging the public about scientific research towards bolstering science communication and reporting in Africa.

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Mahmoud Maina, founder of Science Communication Hub Nigeria said about 70 scientists and journalists will be trained on various strategies of communicating health research through outreach activities and in the mass media. “Through the workshop, we also aim to create partnerships between scientists and journalists for long term development of science in Nigeria. Scientists and journalists need one another!” said Maina, a neuro-scientist and postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Sussex, UK.

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Maina noted that research in science, engineering, technology had expanded enormously in recent decades, underscoring the increasingly central role of science in our daily lives. He believes the public needs a better understanding of science however, lamented the fact that in countries such as Nigeria, misconceptions about science had remained high due to the lack of science culture and effective communication.

“This is partly the reason why people engage in self-medication or avoid vaccination. Moreover, funding for science [in Nigeria] is inadequate; thus, affecting our well-being and the ability of our institutions to nurture the future generation of Nigerian scientists and hindering our potential to advance the society through scientific innovation,” added Maina.

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He observed that Nigerian scientists were not actively engaged in communicating their research findings to the public adding, there was a low interest in science among journalists and consequently inaccurate reporting of scientific research findings in the media. “I am optimistic that this workshop would facilitate and sustain science engagements that promote understanding, trust, and support for science in Nigeria,” Maina said.

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