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Nigeria’s Okere Wins International Astronomical Union Award

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Dr. Bonaventure Okere, an astronomer affiliated with the National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA), has received the 2024 International Astronomical Union (IAU) award for astronomy education in Africa.

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Guido Schwarz, the Press Officer of the IAU, revealed the prize recipients in a statement released on the union’s official website.

The awards were distributed across three categories, which encompassed the IAU Astronomy Outreach, Development, and Education (ODE).

“The IAU has announced the 2024 winners of three IAU prizes that were created in 2022.

“The three awards recognise individuals and organisations who have made outstanding contributions to the fields of astronomy outreach, development and education.

“The 2024 ODE Education prize is awarded to Linda Strubbe and Okere for their leadership in creating high-quality educational experiences in astronomy for African university students.

“ Okere led the foundation of the Pan-African School for Emerging Astronomers (PASEA) at the IAU 28th General Assembly, in Beijing to improve Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics education in Nigeria and Africa.’’

Schwarz mentioned that Okere’s colleague, Strubbe, played a central role in creating top-notch educational experiences in PASEA through her design, leadership, and teaching.

According to Schwarz, Okere’s work is grounded in robust evidence across the educational curriculum, encompassing professional development for PASEA instructors and the assessment of student learning.

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Dr. Bonaventure Okere / Photo Credit: Fast4future

“The inquiry-based curriculum intertwines teaching content with scientific practices and is highly regarded by students, building on Bonaventure Okere’s vision of leveraging the world-class astronomy facilities on the continent.

“The impact of Strubbe’s and Okere’s initiative, leadership, and excellence in implementing PASEA is already enormous and will continue to grow into the future,” he said.

He stated that PASEA has provided training to over 300 students from 18 African countries, with the sixth school scheduled to take place in Tunisia this year.

In his response, Okere expressed that with numerous observatories across Africa, he had always contemplated how to contribute to the development of African astronomers who could assume pivotal roles in these observatories.

He mentioned that the collaborative effort to build a substantial group of astronomers across Africa started in 2012 and resulted in the establishment of PASEA. He added that he was honored to receive the prize on behalf of the PASEA team.

Other recipients of the prizes included Saran Poshyachinda for IAU Outreach and the Central American-Caribbean Bridge in Astrophysics for the IAU Development category.

A total of 62 eligible nominations were received, involving nominators and nominees from across the globe.

Schwarz mentioned that the awards would be conferred upon the winners during the IAU 32nd General Assembly (IAUGA2024) in Cape Town, South Africa, scheduled for August.





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