GUWAHATI, July 30 � The National Council for Science and Technology Communication (NCSTC) has supported a programme, �Learning for Cogent Living�, conceptualised by a regional NGO of Assam, Society for Socio-economic Awareness and Environment Protection (SSEAEP).
The programme is aimed at helping people in leading a rational life with better understanding of science, technology and the environment � out of the sphere of superstitious practices.
The approach of the project is in tune with principle of Science & Technology Literacy (STL) and Education for Sustainable Development (ESD).
�The north-eastern region of India is located in an ecological sensitive zone with rich bio-diversity and ethno-cultural diversity. The people of the region face different constraints in their daily lives due to its physical environmental situation from erosion, landslide, flood, thunderstorm, as well as anomalies of weather and climate. Such phenomena along with other geo-ecological base pose constraints of drinking water, drainage, agricultural failure, health-related problems, etc.,� SSEAEP project coordinator Jayanta Kumar Sarma said.
In this context, developing Science and Technology Literacy (STL) among the people has become an urgent need along with other interventions. As per the mandate of the project, SSEAEP has initiated a study in the region adopting two approaches � one is content analysis of print media coverage of the last 15 years (1999-2013) from the region on S&T issues and superstition, and the other is field- level location-specific study and opinion assessment of the local people of the different States of the North-east, with guidance from and collaboration with State S&T Councils and NGO�s.
From the field-level study, background reports will be prepared based on which a regional workshop will be organised with participation of resource person from eight north-eastern States to design and develop communication packages and modules.
�After that there will be a State-level workshop in each State to train up local-level resource persons. This will be followed by a pilot-basis trial run of campaign and intervention in location-specific areas. Based on the feedback and impact assessment of this trial run, a customised package will be developed for STL initiatives in the region, which will open for use to any interested organisations and institutions of the region,� he said.
SSEAEP has already carried out such field-level studies in Assam (still in progress), Nagaland and Manipur in association with the North East Institute of Health and Sanitation (NEIHS).
Last week, a similar study was started in Meghalaya with the State Science, Technology and Environment Council of Meghalaya (SSTECM). As part of the study there was an interaction with 22 teachers of different districts of Meghalaya at Science Museum, NEHU, and another interaction and opinion assessment exercise with degree-level students at St Anthony�s College, Shillong, and a village-level study in villages like Mawphlung, Lyngkyrdem, Massar, Laitlyngkot, Mawblang, Maweit, etc.
According to Sarma, studies will be carried out soon in Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Mizoram and Tripura. There is plan to complete the background study within September and organise the regional workshop at the end of October. He said that observations from the ongoing study indicated the presence of S&T-related location specific issues in the region which would require a need-specific approach to engage in.
He said many superstitious practices are found related to health issues, scarcity of quality drinking water, weather-related phenomena, etc.
�So there is need of capacity building among the people in the area of water purification, water resource management, indoor environment management, improvisational tools and techniques of observation to develop understanding of environmental phenomena, improvisation and reinterpretation of positive aspects of traditional practices related with natural resource management,� he said.
SSEAEP has appeal to individuals and organisations of the region to provide information, if any, particularly related with S&T problems and superstition related issues to the SSEAP Project Team.