Addressing Science Literacy in Africa Through Open Access
Open access (OA) is a set of principles and a range of practices through which research outputs are distributed online, free of cost or other access barriers. AfricArXiv and The African Science Literacy Network (ASLN) are partnering to promote the submission of articles on AfricArXiv and translation of the articles to make them more accessible to the linguistically diverse African community.
Established in June 2018, AfricArXiv serves as a preprint repository for academic results from African scientists as well as non-African scientists that work on African topics. AfricArXiv is dedicated to speeding and opening up research and collaboration among African scientists and helping to build the future of scholarly communication.
The African Science Literacy Network (ASLN) is a partnership between scientists and journalists, launched october 2019 in Nigeria by TReND in Africa, to support more accurate science communication to the general public. ASLN works to raise awareness about the importance of science to our lives, society and its future, dispel science misconceptions and raise the profile of African research. This work helps to bridge the gap between science, society and policy, which we believe will help to facilitate the rise of Africa as a science superpower. The ultimate goal of scientific research should be to impact on society. However, often published research ends up behind paywalls, as a result, limiting the impact of findings on the society. Through this partnership, we hope to promote access to research from Africa and through our journalists, raise awareness about the importance of these researches to the public and relevant stakeholders.
Science literacy can be described in different ways. One of those descriptions would be: a wide range of skills and competencies that need to be developed to seek out, comprehend, evaluate and use information, including abilities to understand scientific concepts and content (Muir, J, (2016) What is Science Literacy?). It is important to realize the role that local knowledge sharing and public engagement plays in preparing scientifically literate individuals and communities in African countries. Many international interventions often assume use of English, Arabic or French. However, science literacy efforts using oral communication, simple text, animation in local language have much greater involvement, engagement, and impact. Therefore, the use of local language in local cultural context cannot be underestimated.
Opportunities for lifelong learning in informal settings are also required. Given the growing centrality of science and technology in modern societies, formal education should equip most people to be scientifically literate but for people who have not benefited from this to date, the question is how can the knowledge gap be filled? Is it possible to think in terms of equipping adults with a basic ‘toolbox’ of knowledge and skills about science and technology? These are more likely to be successful if efforts are related to specific issues which are relevant to the everyday lives of individuals and communities in their own localities. Desirably, science education, in both formal and informal settings, can make a significant contribution to both the understanding of science and the promotion of science literacy.
AfricArXiv works to trigger interdisciplinary research within the continent as well as globally with research institutions overseas by facilitating a repository specific to the African research community. More benefits of a preprint repository for Africa include increased visibility for African research output, fostering collaboration across continents, and the opportunity to share research results in African languages.
“TReND in Africa is delighted to get involved with AfricaArXiv and ASLN to foster and boost scientific communication and open science. Public funded science generates knowledge that belongs to all. Making sure science communicators are in touch with researchers publishing preprints and open access articles ensures that the main public is well informed about scientific developments first hand! Now more than ever we need to make sure information is spread to all given everyone the chance to be aware and maintain themselves safe.” Samyra, TReND General Coordinator
How you can contribute
As a scientist, submit your preprint to one of the three partner platforms we work with at https://info.africarxiv.org/submit/
Please also read our submission guideline: https://info.africarxiv.org/before-you-submit/
If you are passionate about the use of traditional African languages in Science you can volunteer to translate with us abstracts and summaries of the manuscripts shared on AfricArXiv.
Open Access: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_access
Scientific Literacy: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_literacy
Muir J, (2016) What is Science Literacy? – https://blogs.glowscotland.org.uk/glowblogs/eportfoliojm/2016/02/22/what-is-science-literacy/
(author/ 2017) Science Literacy in Developing Countries: Landscape Survey: – Summary Report, http://www.nida-net.org/documents/8/SL_Researcht_Report_Final.pdf