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The Space Education and Awareness Working Group (SEAWG) of the Asia-Pacific Regional Space Agency Forum (APRSAF) is engaged in facilitating cooperation among its 30 member countries in the areas of space technologies and their applications. It organizes Space Education Seminars in different countries to create space awareness among school students and teachers. During the 16th Session of APRSAF held in Bangkok from January 26 to 29, 2010, the APRSAF SEAWG decided to organize its next seminar in Bangladesh.

Jointly organized by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Bangladesh Astronomical Society (BAS), the APRSAF Space Education Seminar in Bangladesh was held from January 17 to 19, 2011.

The APRSAF Space Education Seminar, the first of its kind in the history of Bangladesh, was held in the auditorium of the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Novotheatre, Dhaka, from January 17 to 18 and in a high school playground at Enayetpur, on January 19.

On January 17, the seminar was held in the Novotheatre. The seminar was inaugurated by Architect Yeafesh Osman, the State Minister for Science and Information and Communication Technology, Government of Bangladesh. In his inaugural speech, the minister thanked the organizers of this seminar and assured that his government would implement an appropriate plan to accelerate space education in Bangladesh. The seminar was attended by eminent scientists and educationists, including 125 secondary school teachers from different locations across Bangladesh.

Among those who delivered their lectures at the seminar were the following individuals: Dr. Takashi Kubota, Senior Scientist, Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS), JAXA, Mr. Tetsuo Hiraiwa, Senior Researcher, Space Transportation Mission Directorate, Kakuda Space Center (JAXA), Mr. Eijiro Hirohama, Director, Space Education Office (JAXA), Ms. Yolanda Berenguer, Space Education Program Coordinator, UNESCO, Dr. A. R. Khan, President, BAS, Mr. F. R. Sarker, General Secretary of BAS and a member of SEAWG, Mr. Munir Hasan, General Secretary, Bangladesh Mathematical Olympiad Committee, Dr. Farseem Mohammedy, Associate Professor of Electrical and Electronic Engineering (BUET), and Dr. Ali Asgar, Professor of Physics, East West University.

The seminar urged the government to immediately set up the "Bangladesh Space Agency" to stimulate space education and awareness activities, as well as research and development of space technologies and their applications in Bangladesh, in order to enable our younger generations to reap the benefits offered by this emerging sector.

During the seminar, Ms. Yolanda Berenguer, on behalf of UNESCO, offered a telescope to BAS. The telescope was handed over to Dr. A. R. Khan, President of BAS, by Mr. Derek Elias, Head of UNESCO, Bangladesh.

Hands-on session for teachers

On January 18, a hands-on session was held on the floor of the Novotheatre. In this session, JAXA officials trained 125 teachers to build plastic rockets. These rockets, kits, and instruction manuals were distributed among the participating teachers so that they could teach their students.

JAXA and UNESCO officials

The most spectacular event of the APRSAF Space Education Seminar was held on January 19 in the high school playground at Enayetpur, in the Space Village; about 4,000 students and teachers from 20 schools had participated in this event. Ms. Yolanda Berenguer, Dr. Takashi Kubota, Mr. Tetsuo Hiraiwa, Mr. Eijiro Hirohama, Dr. A. R. Khan, and Mr. F. R. Sarker delivered their lectures. The event was a hands-on session. Students were shown how to build plastic rockets, and these rockets were distributed among 3,000 students. Ms. Yayoi Miyagawa, Associate Administrator, and Ms. Emiko Ando, Associate Senior Administrator of the Space Education Center (JAXA), helped in the demonstrations of the kits and posters. Both JAXA and UNESCO officials were surprised to see such huge numbers of students and teachers participating in this space congregation; the officials frankly stated that they had never seen such a gathering of space enthusiasts before. JAXA officials were exceedingly pleased and excited to interact with the students, and they promised that they would offer complete cooperation for space education activities in Bangladesh, which will begin from Enayetpur.

Rear view of space education seminar


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