In developing African Gong, we envision a network that is multi-disciplinary, inclusive, interactive and multi-level in its membership, constituencies and partnerships, for the purpose of the exchange of information, regional and continental co-operation, including the African Diaspora. Other critical delivery parameters for the network include training, capacity-building, resource mobilisation, development and sharing of good practice in science communication and the popularization of science and technology, on the African continent. A critical component of this inclusive landscape is the commitment of African Gong to Language Diversity and thus, to work towards operating and delivering across the three-main sub-Saharan African working Languages of English, French and Portuguese, and also, Indigenous African Languages.
Our key goal is to encourage the creation, dissemination and utilisation of science and technology for addressing pressing developmental needs on the African continent in a sustainable manner. A pivotal role is envisaged for the harnessing of the Indigenous knowledge and participatory capacity of Africa’s scientists and communicators, to enhance social inclusion, as well as cultural and political engagement. This network will also engender opportunities for international research collaborations, projects and networking in various international fora and conferences.
Framing the Science Communication & PLUS Agenda in Africa
African Gong is ambitious in aiming to achieve a re-imagined and re-fashioned landscape of transformative science communication and the public learning and understanding of science (PLUS) for sustainable development in Africa. Key parameters of the hallmarks of this innovative landscape include the following:
- Citizen-centred approaches that prioritize gendered social and cultural paradigms to transform the Eurocentric and masculine-biased programmes that currently dominate. These also involve the mainstreaming of indigenous knowledge systems (IKS) into ways of conceptualizing, delivering and practising science communication and the PLUS, so as to tap into local, urban and rural communities and their traditional indigenous ways of knowing and understanding natural and scientific phenomena. There is also the need to address language diversity so that science communication and the PLUS materials, resources and engagements can be produced, disseminated and interacted in diverse local African languages and incorporated as early learning tools in school curricula. This would deliver enhanced reach, sustainable impact and empower local communities and our youth.
- The active involvement of social scientists to help address sociocultural contexts. There is a growing acknowledgement that multidisciplinary scientific endeavour is critical to enabling societies to overcome multiple development challenges. The imperative of multi-disciplinarity should thus, also apply in the ways that science is communicated—the what, the how, the where, the tools, the methodologies and so on. Science communication and PLUS initiatives should then be co-designed in transdisciplinary, trans-science contexts to address multifaceted development challenges and engender mutual and transformational learning. Integrating social science and co-framing and co-producing the science communication and PLUS agenda will stimulate and support innovation and enhance inclusion.
- Effective joint leadership and control by local actors (governments, civil society and community-based organizations) as well as international groups. The utilisation of participatory approaches to determining and achieving alternative, empowering and inclusive visions of a scientifically literate society. Building consensus on directions and mechanisms of progress and development in ways that include marginalized and non-scientific views and voices is a key challenge. Science communication and science and society strategies that are based on good-quality and appropriate community engagement are the key to achieving development goals.
- An emphasis on the long-term sustainability of initiatives, such as training a new generation of multidisciplinary science communicators and journalists to work for and with their fellow citizens to communicate the pivotal role of science in sustainable development and the betterment of societies, in an inclusive and empowering dynamic.