When an 11th-grade student, Yassin Mohamed, came to the lecture “Evolution: Between Science and Myth,” he thought the theory of evolution meant that humans came from monkeys. He believed that the idea contradicted the Islamic view on the creation of Adam.
The lecture, part of a Science Book Forum hosted by Qatar National Library to encourage science reading among youth and correct common misconceptions about science, altered Mohamed’s views on evolutionary theory.
“My idea about evolution completely changed after the lecture,” Mohamed said. “The subject is more complicated than the statement that man comes from monkeys, which we all had heard about. This discussion motivated me to read more on the topic.” (See a related article, “Do Human Evolution and Islam Conflict in the Classroom?”)
[Enjoying this article? Subscribe to our free newsletter.]
The forum provides attendees the opportunity to talk to scientists—from Nobel laureates to space explorers—and ask questions. Through these interactions and access to scientific books, the library hopes to promote science education among the country’s children.
“The library mirrors the needs of society and we always need scientists in this part of the world,” the library’s executive director, Sohair Wastawy, said. “By making the environment available for discussing scientific topics, we are broadening the base of children who are interested in science so they are able to select that as a career when they are older.”
Improving Science Education
Qatar has been trying to encourage more students to choose the STEM disciplines—science, technology, engineering and mathematics—a goal that is seen as an important requirement for a knowledge-based economy that could decrease the country’s dependency on hydrocarbon revenue. Qatar is not as strong a producer of oil as some of its neighbors, but it is the world’s largest exporter of liquefied natural gas, according to the World Bank. Progress in reforming science education has been slow.