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[LUSAKA] A programme of science discussion forums has been launched in Ghana, with the aim of increasing public awareness and understanding of science.

Café Scientifique is a series of free events where members of the public can discuss the latest scientific issues informally over a cup of coffee or glass of wine.

Originating from the United Kingdom, the events consist of a short talk on a topical science subject and then the topic is opened up for questions and debate with the audience.

The concept has been successfully replicated in America, Asia and Europe. The Ghana café series is organised by the British Council and the Ghana Education Service, and is the first in West Africa.

The organisers hope the programme will engage a wider audience with science and the impact it has in their lives, reports the Accra Mail newspaper.

Papa Owusu-Ankomah, minister of education, science and sports, said he hoped that the events would promote scientific literacy in the Ghanaian public, and have a knock-on effect on how science is taught at higher education institutions.

"We want to nurture this model, and for it to permeate our entire national development process and ensure that science is brought to the door step of the common man in Ghana."

The first event took place at the British Council's Accra learning centre. Its topic was water resources, the environment and pollution, with a talk by local scientist Mamaa Entsua-Mensah, of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.

It is hoped that the events will spread to other locations, such as universities.

Samuel Bannerman-Mensah, director of the Ghana Education Service, appealed to people across all districts in Ghana to host Café Scientifique events and promote the importance and relevance of science to everyday life.

"Café Scientifique is a kind of science acculturation that we need to adopt as a developing nation so that scientific knowledge is applied in all that we do and think as a nation," he told SciDev.Net.