December 11, 2019
Since its launch in February 2018, the OWSD Mauritius Chapter has gradually gained momentum and recognition, and is being increasingly solicited by various institutions, including several NGOs. The National Chapter works closely with the Australian High Commission for Mauritius, the Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie (AUF) and Curtin Mauritius, among others, in addition to its host organization, the Food and Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (FAREI), and others. The National Chapter counts 46 members and is continuing to expand its networking activities, in view of establishing additional collaborations and identifying joint projects and events for promoting scientific research and awareness in the country.
The National Chapter participated in a large number of activities in 2018 and 2019, including inter-university debates for students organized by AUF, an MT180 contest thesis presentation contest for PhD students, and a one-day workshop for educators held by Curtin Mauritius. A highlight of the year was the joint celebration marking one year since the launch of the National Chapter, as well as the International Day for Women and Girls in Science and International Women's Day.
Read more about the Mauritius National Chapter's many recent activities below.
One day-workshop on “Using Inquiry to Create Integrated STEM: A Makerspace Project Based Approach”
The university Curtin Mauritius, in collaboration with the OWSD Mauritius National Chapter and the Australian High Commission, hosted a workshop on 5 November 2019 on the topic of “Using Inquiry to Create Integrated STEM: A Makerspace Project Based Approach.”
The facilitators demonstrated and shared a number of technologies that can support primary and secondary school teachers to help their students develop not only knowledge of STEM concepts, but also transversal competencies such as problem solving, critical and creative thinking, communication and collaboration.The workshop was very successful, with positive comments from the 26 educators who participated.
Inspiring Scientists: Portraying role models in Science
The OWSD Mauritius National Chapter participated in the event Inspiring Scientists organized by the Rajiv Gandhi Science Centre with the support of the U.S. Embassy of Mauritius. The event targeted 230 girls from nine secondary schools, and aimed at portraying the professional pathways and achievements of Mauritian female scientists who might serve as role models to the girls. Several OWSD members volunteered to present their career paths and insights to the students, including: postdoctoral biomaterials researcher Nowsheen Goonoo; livestock researcher and National Chapter Chair Devika Saddul; food science lecturer and researcher Hudaa Neetoo; and RGSC science communicator Bhamini Kamudu.
The international MT180 competition, short for “Ma these en 180 secondes,” was held for the first time in Mauritius in 2019, organized by the Campus numérique francophone de Réduit of AUF with partners the French Embassy, l'Institut français de Maurice and Eco Austral, in addition to the OWSD Mauritius National Chapter. The contest challenges PhD students to explain the essence of their doctoral thesis in 180 seconds, using only one PowerPoint slide. The National Chapter's involvement helped to guarantee a good gender balance among participants, who came from many different disciplines of research. National Chapter members also participated as jury members for the finale of the competition, which was held on 24 July. A video from the competition can be viewed on Facebook [Fr] and at http://mt180.international.
Joint celebration of one year of OWSD Mauritius, International Day of Women and Girls in Science, and International Women’s Day
For the joint occasions of the one year anniversary of the launch of the OWSD Mauritius National Chapter, the United Nations International Day of Women and Girls in Science (11 February), and International Women's Day (8 March), the National Chapter organized a series of talks for college students in April 2019 around the theme of “Youth, Science Education, Leadership and Career Perspectives,” in collaboration with the Australian High Commission and the Mauritius Ministry of Education and Human Resources, Tertiary Education and Scientific Research. The guest speakers were very passionate about their presentations, which impressed the students and other audience members. Among the presentations were:
- "Nanotechnology: A Multidisciplinary Research and Innovation Landscape", A. Bhaw-Luximon, Associate Professor, Centre for Biomedical and Biomaterials Research, University of Mauritius
- "STEM Education: A Transnational View", L. Pelliccione, Pro-Vice Chancellor, Curtin Mauritius
- "Women in Science in the Developing World: The real picture (Not so easy but so rewarding)," O. Veerasamy, Researcher, SimplissimA Research Institute, Mauritius
- "Cultiver pour demain- vers une nouvelle generation agricole," Y. Sokoo, Agronomist, Le Velo Vert
The talks were aimed at college students studying science, in order to inspire them and promote greater interaction between scientists and students, teachers and the audience, and to showcase the applications of science in real life situations that are tangible and extend beyond the classical and basic science subjects learned at school.
Mauritius National Chapter members participated as members of the jury panel during a two-week series of inter-university debates organized in February-March 2019 by the Campus numérique francophone de Réduit of AUF, in collaboration with the University of Mauritius. The National Chapter also contributed a list of questions for the debates centered on the theme of “Education, youth and science.” Both students studying science as well as those in non-scientific fields were asked to debate on the questions, with the winning team having the opportunity to take part in the regional-level finale of the debates in Madagascar.
Workshop on Participation of Girls and Women in STEM in Mauritius
Mauritius National Chapter members collaborated with Madhvee Madhou of the Mauritius Research Council to organize a workshop on the occasion of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science to present the findings from a study on "Participation of Girls and Women in STEM in Mauritius", as well as their participation and success rates in research and development at professional levels. The study was conducted by Madhvee Madhou (Research Coordinator), Divya Naginlal Modi and Kajal Fowdar (Research Assistants). The workshop was also used as an opportunity to highlight the objectives and initiatives of the National Chapter to participants.
Awareness-raising session on ICT tools in agriculture
In September 2018, the Mauritius National Chapter hosted an awareness-raising session on the use of ICT tools in agriculture, consisting of short talks, a short video projection, and a demonstration on the use of a mobile app for agriculture developed by a group of university students. The event was part of a joint initiative between OWSD, FAREI, Women in Tech Africa (WITA), and IT professional Darshana Seetah, with the objective of creating awareness about the use of IT in agriculture both as an information tool and for networking between different actors in the value chain. The session was the first of its kind, and participants including farmers, students, and other stakeholders involved in agriculture showed deep interest in the possibilities demonstrated.
Afternoon Tea meeting
In August 2018, the Australian Ambassador for Women and Girls, Sharman Stone, held an afternoon tea meeting with the OWSD Mauritius National Chapter to reflect on the question, How can agriculture in the future be a way to enhance women's and girls' economic empowerment? Jacqueline Sauzier, General Secretary of Mauritius Chamber of Commerce, provided the venue for the meeting, at which was held a dynamic informal discussion about challenges faced by women in agriculture and about the achievements of Mauritian women in different sectors of agriculture. The event was held with support from the Australian High Commission for Mauritius.
In May 2018, the Mauritius National Chapter hosted Lyn Karstadt and David Morisson, Deputy Vice Chancellors at Murdoch University, who spoke to National Chapter members about “One Woman’s Ontological Journey through Life” - Karstadt's own experiences - and “Multilevel Approaches to binding Research and Innovation,” respectively. The event was supported by the Australian High Commission for Mauritius.