Call for Sussex to help create unique library to inspire future generations of scientists 6,000 miles away
A University of Sussex researcher wants to encourage the next generation of scientists in her homeland by helping to create a one-of-a-kind library in Rwanda.
Dr Marie-Fabrice Gasasira Uwamahoro, a research technician at the university’s world-renowned Genome Damage and Stability Centre (GDSC), is looking to raise £4,000 in a month to create a permanent resource that hundreds of Rwandan pupils will have access to.
Dr Gasasira hopes the project will help overcome one of Rwanda’s biggest obstacles in trying to rebuild its economy through science and technology – a shortage of resources.
It has been agreed with the Rwandan Ministry of Education that the library will be based at a science secondary school in Nyanza, a city in southern Rwanda around 100km from the capital Kigali, with opportunities made available for other schools to come and use the library.
Dr Gasasira said: “One of the obstacles that hinders science teaching in Rwanda at the moment is the lack of science textbooks to support teachers and students.
"In our effort to encourage training of future scientists, we hope that by setting up a school-based science library we will help teachers to achieve a higher level of teaching and help students to enjoy an improved science education.
“As a scientist whose scientific dreams started while sitting at the benches of the same secondary schools in Nyanza, I really want to encourage the students of today and the future to share the same aspirations that I had. I want them to see that they too could have a career in science and experience the same passion and enjoyment in learning as I have had from my 14-year career, which has taken me to some fantastic places, and led to collaborations with some incredible colleagues and working on some fascinating discoveries.”
More than 1,000 science textbooks have been donated by colleges and scientists from around the UK and are now stored at the School of Life Sciences at the University of Sussex ready for transporting the 6,000 miles to central Africa.
Dr Gasasira is now calling on the generosity of the public to cover the £2,000 transportation costs of sending the books to Kigali International Airport as well as further transport costs of £350 to take the books from the airport to Nyanza district and finally to pay for all the furniture and shelving needed in the library.
The fundraising project follows on from the success of a science festival Dr Gasasira helped organise in Nyanza in March that saw dozens of talented young teenager scientists attend.
Dr Gasasira said: “The festival was a really great day and while we would love to do more of them in Rwanda, what is really needed is something more permanent and lasting that pupils will be able to find inspiration in and help spark and maintain an interest in science every day.
"Speaking to teachers and pupils in March, it was very clear despite many dedicated people’s best efforts to ensure excellence in the science teaching in Rwandan schools, there are still major challenges that have to be overcome. By donating to this project, hopefully people in the UK can go some way to tackling those challenges.”
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