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Effective Science Communication: Bridging the Science-to-Policy Gap

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Aiming to bridge the science-to-policy gap, the ASEAN Foundation conceived the ASEAN Science and Technology Fellowship. In its fifth cycle, the 2019/2020 Fellowship will enable 17 ASEAN scientists to contribute their specialist knowledge and skills towards science-based policy and decision making by joining sectoral and line ministries and other national agencies in their home countries.

The HEAD Foundation has designed a capacity building programme for the current cohort of ASEAN Science and Technology Fellows. This programme intends to equip Fellows with the skills required to improve their science communication skills to translate their knowledge into lay terms to effectively engage with policymakers, and to impact policy changes.

On 28 June 2019, The HEAD Foundation kicked off the training programme with a three-day workshop in Bali, Indonesia.

Over the course of three days, the Fellows participated in activities to improve their confidence, oral presentation skills, writing skills and media management. Dr Chang Da Wan; Dr Mohd Ghows Mohd Azzam; Dr Norazharuddin Shah Abdullah; Dr Khayriyyah Mohd Hanafiah, the 2018 Champion of the prestigious global science communication competition FameLab International; Mr Danial Abdul Rahman, former Press Secretary to the Minister of Higher Education Malaysia; and Dr Khoo Cheok Kau, Founder, Manager and Principal Trainer of Kairos Performance Learning PLT were the trainers for the workshop.

The Fellows continued their learning in an online community of practice, where they shared learning and best practices, and received feedback over the course of the year.

On 6-8 December 2019, the Fellows reconvened for their second workshop to strengthen their communication and collaboration skills. This time round, they were joined by their seniors from the previous batches.

Apart from the lead trainers, the participants also learned from Dr Abdul Razak Ahmad, Founding Director of Bait Al-Amanah, an independent research institute in Malaysia; Mr Shahrill Sabarudin; Mr Mervin Ng, LinkedIn; Y.M. Tengku Tan Sri Dr. Mahaleel Tengku Ariff, former CEO of Proton; Professor Dato’ Dr. Morshidi Sirat, Director, Commonwealth Tertiary Education Facility (CTEF), Malaysia, and Senior Research Fellow, National Higher Education Research Institute (IPPTN).

Picking up from the previous session, the 3-day workshop in Malaysia delved deeper into oral presentations, policy writing, personal branding and leadership skills. The workshop culminated in riveting TED-style talks, where each participant showcased the presentation skills they have picked up in the past six months.

The HEAD Foundation is pleased to witness the transformation of the 2019/2020ASEAN Science and Technology Fellows, who met as strangers in June 2019, and graduated from the effective science communication programme with newly-built friendships and networks, as well as improved confidence, public speaking skills and writing skills.