Samira Syal


Samira Syal

Started studies 2016

Internship place: The UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe, Venice (Italy)

 Before I started my studies in Finland, I worked as an English and Science teacher for two years in India. During those two years, it slowly became evident a wide gap between science education policy and its implementation. So, it was not surprising that when the opportunity to intern in UNESCO’s science sector in the field office in Venice, Italy arose, I accepted. 

I interned in the Ark of Inquiry: Inquiry Awards for Youth across Europe project, a research and development project funded under the EU’s Seventh Framework Programme for Research (FP7). Coordinated by the University of Tartu, Estonia, the project is a 13-partner consortium from 12 different EU countries, with UNESCO being one of the partners. The project primarily aimed to stimulate interest in the STEM sciences through integrating concepts of Inquiry-Based Science Education (IBSE) and Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI); thereby, attracting more pupils (ages 7 to18 years) to the STEM fields. In this regard, the project intends to build capacity of the forthcoming generations to tackle societal challenges in the long run, by engaging teachers to create a conducive learning environment fostering mutual learning and equal participation of both genders in the STEM subjects. Started in 2014, and currently in the fourth and final year of its implementation, the project is in its final stage – dissemination.

In the 4 months of my internship, I had worked with the team from Tartu on putting together the learnings of the project in a final document of sorts, akin to the Global Education Monitoring report of 2016. This involved finding research support for the project findings from, both the project’s studies and other notable research; and then constructing the document keeping in mind the UN’s agenda for sustainable development. 

In addition to this, I had worked on a training deck that was targeted for science teachers from countries in the South-East European region. This introductory training was offered through a webinar. I was involved in organising, coordinating, implementing and promoting the webinar through devised optimal ways to advertise the webinar through school networks and other media. As a result, I developed hands-on project management skills. Through the webinar, 100+ science teachers from this region had access to the project’s trainings and resources and even may be targeted for a future collaboration with UNESCO.

The UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe, Venice (Italy), with its rich international environment and diverse perspectives, had provided me with many opportunities to work with and learn from leading researchers and noteworthy individuals in the field of science education within UNESCO and also from within the consortium; develop an overview of the inner workings of the functioning of a UN agency; acquire and hone skills crucial to my future career path. Every day brought about a new learning opportunity, from working in an interdisciplinary team within the office to learning how to use photoshop; it truly was an enlightening experience.