Implications of socio-cultural research findings for science education reform in non-western developing countries
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Many countries in the world, including the less developed ones, acknowledge that socio-economic development will rely for a good part on the rapidity of progress in and adoption of science and technology. As such, school systems have been asked to provide challenging and stimulating science programmes that lead to scientific literacy for all. However, despite the heavy injection of scarce funds and resources to support various science education reform programmes, evaluation studies show disappointingly, that the level of scientific literary among students and their communities has not risen proportionately to expectations in most developing countries. The programmes generally do not appear to produce telling effects in these societies in the long term. Science educators have, on reflection, begun to look to sociocultural studies in order to better understand the problems of acquiring scientific literacy in non-Western contexts. These studies collectively find problematic the time-honoured assumption in science education that culturally acquired thought and belief patterns can he readily and simply supplanted by Western scientific rationality leading to 'progress' or to 'development'. This paper explores and articulates the direction school science and science teacher education should take in order to enhance the potential to achieve more global scientific literacy in non- Western developing countries. For there to be meaningful and useful adoption of scientific values and habits, it is argued that there is a need for science education in developing countries to concern itself with the understanding and critical interrogation of the rationality of Western science relative to localIv held world views.