The Lieutenant Governor of California, Gavin Newsom, has written to the California State Board of Education asking them to properly alter their prejudiced and wrong portrayal of Hinduism and India in the social science textbooks.
The academicians strengthened his claim by writing another letter demanding the same thing.
The Hindu American Foundation, too, was seen writing to the Board with similar requests in mind.
July 13,2016: After the issue was raised last week by Tulsi Gabbard, the Hindu American Congresswoman, the activists rooting for proper representation of Hinduism in California textbooks have another shot in the arm.
Gavin Newsom, the Lieutenant Governor of California has recently written to the California State Board of Education and has demanded a proper representation of Hinduism in the school text books. He feels that Hinduism has largely been misinterpreted in the text books with unnecessary trampling with history to make it look like a vicious religion in comparison to other faiths.
“I strongly encourage you to consider the perspective of young Indian-American and Hindu-American students and whether the proposed framework accurately and fairly portrays that students’ history. If you agree that it does not, I hope you will consider making the appropriate modification,” California Lt Governor Gavin Newsom’s letter to the State Board read.
This stand by the Lt Governor has largely encouraged and is also appreciated by the Hindu American parents who have been persistently raising their doubts about this issue for a long time, now. Clearly, growing up away from home, they did not want their children to get a wrong impression of their religion.
Apart from them eminent academicians wrote letters to the Education Board of California about the maltreatment of the subject of Hinduism in the social science books as well. They had found certain portrayals of Hinduism in the books to be historically inaccurate and false.
“We should all be working for a representation of India and Hinduism that is consistent with the manner in which other civilisations and religions are portrayed and is age appropriate, rather than singling out India and Hinduism for especially critical treatment,” the academicians had written in the letter.
"Science is increasingly recognized as an important engine of economic growth and societal advancement," she wrote in an email. She noted "increasing numbers of such programs on the African continent, where there is a surging young population entering the workforce."
Africa-born particle physicist Ketevi Assamagan is a man on a mission. His goal is to bring science education to a new generation of young Africans through a traveling program known as the African School of Fundamental Physics and Applications, or ASP.
“Sometimes, people just need some help to be able to find the right resources,” said Assamagan, an ASP founder who works at the U.S. Energy Department’s Brookhaven National Laboratory here on Long Island. “So, together with some colleagues, we decided to create this school.”
Born in Guinea, Assamagan grew up in Togo and earned a doctorate from the University of Virginia in 1995. Gratitude to past mentors fueled his desire to start the ASP, he said.
The ASP program runs for three weeks every two years in a different African country. The first was in 2010 in South Africa, with subsequent gatherings in Ghana, Senegal, Rwanda and Namibia. The next is planned for July 2020 in Marrakesh, Morocco.
Each workshop brings together up to 80 students, who are treated to intensive lectures and training by top-flight physicists.
“We get students from all over Africa [who] have at least three years of university education,” Assamagan said. “The majority of them are usually at the master’s level and they come from different fields: nuclear and high energy physics, medical applications, computing, mathematics and theoretical physics.”
The students’ expenses are covered by roughly 20 international sponsors, including the Brookhaven lab; the International Center for Theoretical Physics in Trieste, Italy; the South African Department of Science and Technology; and Italy’s National Institute for Nuclear Physics.
Another sponsor has been the European Center for Nuclear Research, known as CERN, in Geneva. Assamagan worked on CERN’s particle accelerator for several years while conducting research on the elusive Higgs boson subatomic particle. He left in 2001 to join Brookhaven.
After the program, participants are paired with senior mentors who offer advice on additional education, teaching and research opportunities, both in Africa and abroad.
For Zimbabwe native Last Feremenga, participation in the 2010 ASP workshop served as a springboard to a doctorate in physics from the University of Texas. Now he’s a data scientist with Digital Reasoning, an artificial intelligence firm headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee.
“I sift through large datasets of written text in search of rare forms of conversations/language. These rare conversations are useful for our clients from health care to finance,” the 32-year-old told VOA in an email. He added that he’s using “similar tactics” to those he learned at ASP.
Julia MacKenzie, senior director of international affairs for the American Association for the Advancement of Science, says training programs such as ASP are especially important in developing countries.
“Science is increasingly recognized as an important engine of economic growth and societal advancement,” she wrote in an email. She noted “increasing numbers of such programs on the African continent, where there is a surging young population entering the workforce.”
“A potential impact of graduate training is exposure to new ideas and people,” MacKenzie added. “Any time graduate students can come together, it’s likely that new friendships will form, and those relationships can provide support through inevitable challenges and spawn new collaborations.”
Assamagan says that when he was in high school in Togo, science was taught from second-hand textbooks from abroad. There was no experimentation.
“Direct involvement … in terms of playing with things and getting mental challenge to try to figure it out was not really there,” he said. “We want to resolve that” through ASP.
The 70 or so science teachers at the workshop last year in Namibia learned hands-on experiments that could be replicated with scant equipment and resources.
For example, using only a small plastic box with an aluminum plate, tin foil, Styrofoam, pure alcohol and dry ice, high school students could build a tabletop “cloud chamber” to simulate the detection of cosmic particles from outer space. Another experiment taught physics to elementary school children by way of art. The children could drip paint on a canvas tilted at various angles, then observe the patterns the paint made as it descended.
“You can then start introducing the idea of gravity,” Assamagan said. “And then relating things falling down to the Earth going around the sun as being driven by the same force.”
Assamagan predicts a bright future for physics research in Africa. He says he sees talent and commitment, but that more digital libraries, along with continent-wide access to high-speed internet connections and the political will to provide them, are needed. (VOA)