Coimbatore

A well-maintained facility lacks patronage

A model of a nuclear reactor at the Regional Science Centre in Coimbatore. S. Siva Saravanan

A model of a nuclear reactor at the Regional Science Centre in Coimbatore. S. Siva Saravanan  

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In spite of various outreach activities, there are not many visitors to the Regional Science Centre

The Regional Science Centre (RSC) in Coimbatore, established in 2013 to kindle scientific temper in young minds, lacks patronage.

According to an official at the RSC, in spite various outreach activities conducted by the Centre, such as meeting with scientists and experts and summer and winter camps for school students, the footfall has stagnated to around 30,000 to 35,000 visitors annually since 2015.

Galleries

Inaugurated on May 6, 2013, by the then Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, the RSC has more than 150 exhibits spread on an area of 4,000 sq.m.

There are six main galleries on physical science, mechanical demonstration of everyday objects, entertaining scientific activities, evolution of textiles, a 3-D science show and a mini planetarium.

The Centre, intended to cater to the entire Western region of the State, was established by the Tamil Nadu Science and Technology Centre, an autonomous body established by the State Government. RSC is currently headed by District Science Officer J.R. Pazhaniswami. Apart from the exhibits, an Innovation Hub related to branches such as robotics and mechatronics will soon be unveiled at the Centre.

According to T.P. Vijayan, gallery instructor at the RSC, the Innovation Hub will enable students, particularly from government schools, conduct experiments and come up with new innovations.

The RSC has reached out to Chief Education Officers and heads of various colleges to send students to the Centre, but these requests mostly go unanswered, according to the official.

“The schools are only focusing on finishing the syllabus,” the official alleged, noting that the schools generally send their students to RSC only between June and September before the examinations begin. Even among school students, only those from Class VI to Class IX are sent to the Centre, the official observed. Although the RSC remains open throughout the year, except during the three national holidays (Republic Day, Independence Day and Gandhi Jayanti), visitors are only seen during weekends.

When contacted, Coimbatore CEO R. Murugan said that there were no specific initiatives from the Department of School Education at present to encourage students to visit the RSC.

Inadequate manpower

Another problem faced by the RSC is inadequate manpower. The centre has only five technical staff and three administrative staff, according to sources at the RSC. The officials have sought for the appointment of five persons on a temporary basis, sources said. On top of these issues, the RSC also suffers from a lack of visibility - literally and figuratively.

Located on Codissia Road behind Jenneys Residency, there are no direct government bus service to the Centre, leading to lack of accessibility to the public.

There are no promotional campaigns to attract more public to the RSC. Officials have requested the State government to display more eye-catching science models at the entrance, sources said. However, promotional campaigns need more manpower and technical support, which the RSC does not possess at present, sources said.

“Lack of awareness is the major reason why fewer people visit [the RSC],” said S. Chandrasekar, coordinator of School Education Protection Movement, a forum which provides guidance for school students on academic concerns.

Noting that school students must be exposed to various museums and science centres, he urged the Department of School Education to arrange trips for school students to the RSC and other museums in the city.

With adequate transport facilities, appointment of more staff members and promotion campaigns particularly aimed at the school students, the RSC in the city shall be more well-equipped in fulfilling the objectives laid down, according to the official.

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Printable version | Dec 7, 2019 4:14:20 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Coimbatore/a-well-maintained-facility-sans-patronage/article28763693.ece

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