IGNOU and UNESCO are together hosting an event to foster science in the SAARC countries.

Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) have decided to organise a Science Olympiad for students as the first major initiative under the IGNOU-UNESCO joint work plan signed earlier this year.

Students of South Asian countries, namely, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, currently studying in Class XI or equivalent, now have an opportunity to win IGNOU-UNESCO accredited merit certificates, prizes and awards.

The IGNOU-UNESCO Science Olympiad 2010 website with online registration facility was formally launched on June 3 by the director of UNESCO, New Delhi, Armoogum Parsuramen, with Prof. V. N. Rajasekharan Pillai, vice-chancellor, IGNOU. This is being organised administratively by the Raman Chair of IGNOU with two important motives, one to develop a real base for scientific cooperation between the SAARC counties by utilising the ‘prime movers of tomorrow's science', and secondly to bring back the interest in basic sciences which has been steadily declining in the past three decades. The key objectives of the olympiad are to provide young people from the SAARC region with a unique competitive platform where they can prove themselves. By infusing a healthy competitive spirit through reward-based contests during two stages of olympiad, the event hopes to gradually bring about a transformation in the classroom approach to science and make it more interactive, practical and innovative.

Science stream students with mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology and/or computer science, enrolled currently (2010-2011 academic year) in Class XI or its equivalent are eligible to participate.

Participant students may be from any school of the SAARC countries. The participant must have passed in the science branch (maths, physics, chemistry, biology) or its equivalent in their Class X or its equivalent final examination with a minimum of 70 per cent marks or corresponding grade where mark system does not prevail. The olympiad competition will be based on a format of two-tier test. First, a totally objective type of test having multiple choice questions with OMR marking will be conducted at the regional and study centres of IGNOU in India and centres operated by the UNESCO national commissions in other countries. Test will have equal weight for all four branches of basic science. The duration for the written test will be three hours.

About 1,000 top and meritorious students from the Tier-I test from all these countries will receive IGNOU-UNESCO merit certificates indicating the percentile of their performance. Furthermore, 30-40 real top scorers of the Tier I test from all these countries will be invited to Delhi to receive medals and cash prizes. Their full travel and local hospitality will be borne by the organisers. During this visit they will also write a Tier II test, a problem-solving type, and five toppers among them will receive additional recognitions and awards.

For details and online registration, the intending participants may visit the websites: http://www.ignou.ac.in/ (click IGNOU UNESCO Science Olympiad) or http://scienceolympiad.ignou.ac.in.