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ATPS collaborates with the UK-POST and SciDev.Net to host a Training Workshop on Communicating Science to Parliamentarians

Members of African parliaments are increasingly required to address the science, technology and innovation aspects of important policy issues, such as climate change, infectious diseases, ICT infrastructure, agriculture and food security, etc. They rely to a large extent on parliamentary staff to provide them with the information they need for informed debate on proposed new laws in such areas, and carry out the effective scrutiny of government. Parliamentary staff therefore often act as “middlemen” in the communication between scientists, producers of new technologies and such policymakers. But as few staff come from a scientific background, they are likely to lack some of the relevant skills needed to communicate scientific and often technical knowledge effectively to parliamentarians, and vice versa. 

On this backdrop, the African Technology Policy Studies Network (ATPS) in collaboration with the UK Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (UK-POST) and SciDev.Net held a Training Workshop on Communicating Science to Parliamentarians. The workshop was held at the Imperial Royal Hotel in Kampala, Uganda from 22 – 26 September 2008. This workshop was attended by parliamentary staff from 13 African countries who are involved in providing information to Parliamentarians on science and technology related issues.

The aim of the workshop was to help participants develop skills required to effectively communicate science and technical information to policymakers in forms that are readily accessible and easily understood.

To provide an introduction to and basic training in some of these skills the UK Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (UKPOST), the African Technology Policy Studies Network (ATPS), and Science and Development Network (SciDev.Net) announced a five-day course on “communicating science to policymakers” in Kampala, Uganda.

Applications were invited from parliamentary staff whose work includes the provision of advice and information to Parliamentarians on science, technologies and innovations for development issues. 

The course was conducted by experts in the field of science communication and science policy from the UK and Africa, and involved a combination of lectures, practical exercises and discussion workshops, as well as a program of networking events with science journalists, academic scientists and policymakers.  

The primary focus was to help participants develop skills required to effectively communicate scientific and technical information to policymakers in forms that are readily accessible and easily understood. This covered both the format and the content of effective communication about scientific issues. 

The course was designed to also help participants develop skills in the following areas:

How to identify the needs of Parliamentarians for scientific information or advice on scientific issues; 

How best to draw on the expertise of the scientific community; 

How to access the required information most efficiently, particularly through the use of the Internet and authoritative knowledge databases, and networking with the scientific community; 

How to communicate science and technology most effectively,

How to assess both the immediate and long-term outcomes of such communications.

The workshop was attended by 37 delegates from twelve (13) countries including Botswana, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Namibia, Nigeria, Somaliland, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Tanzania, and Zambia, as well as journalists from Uganda and experts from SciDev.Net, UK-POST and the ATPS Network. The Speaker of the Uganda National Assembly was also in attendance.


Posted on Wednesday 13th February, 2013

 

 

 

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