The 2019 summer school will be held in Abuja, Nigeria and hosted by the Center for Basic Space Science (CBSS) at the University of Nigeria You can follow us on Facebook @WAISSYA, twitter @WAISSYA.

The West African International Summer School for Young Astronomers (WAISSYA) is a program held every two years in West Africa. At each summer school, there are approximately 60 participants, mainly undergraduates, from across West Africa. Organized and taught by a collaboration of international astronomers, the main goals of WAISSYA are:
  • Contribute to building a critical mass of astronomers in West Africa
  • Contribute to empowering young West Africans in becoming scientific leaders
  • Share ideas about teaching and learning between West Africa and North America / Europe.
    To achieve those goals, the innovative WAISSYA program is informed by research in science education: it focuses on developing instructors’ teaching practices, and on “inquiry”, a paradigm in which students ask and investigate their own mini-research questions in small teams. We use research-based surveys and student reflections to measure student learning, and revise our curriculum for future summer schools based on the results.  WAISSYA alumni are now attending graduate programs across the globe including in countries such as Canada, Portugal and Cameroon, as well as serving as teachers, scientists and engineers at home.


    The original idea for WAISSYA came about through conversations between Linda Strubbe (University of British Columbia, Canada), Bonaventure Okere (Centre for Basic Space Science, National Space Research and Development Agency, Nsukka, Nigeria), and Michael Reid (University of Toronto, Canada) during a trip to the International Astronomical Union (IAU) General Assembly held in Beijing in 2012. West Africa was recognized to have huge potential to develop a strong astronomy community. This potential will be realized due to its large number of talented students interested in science and Africa's promise of an investment in the Square Kilometre Array (a cutting-edge new radio observatory built across two continents: Africa and Australia). So far we have held schools in both Nigeria and Ghana, working with West African colleagues and organizations interested in building up a critical mass of West African astronomers and establishing collaborations with universities and astronomy institutions outside the region.


    After more than a year of preparation and international collaboration, the first summer school was held in Abuja, Nigeria beginning 2013 October 21 and ending 2013 October 25. WAISSYA 2013 was attended by approximately 70 students, most of whom were undergraduates. Post-school data analysis showed that the summer school had a very positive impact on students.  For more information, see Page 11 through 14 of the IAU Commission 46 - Astronomy Education and Development - Newsletter 80 (October 2014).


    After another two years of preparation, the second summer school was held at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Nigeria beginning 2015 July 13 and ending 2015 July 17. WAISSYA 2015 was attended by approximately 50 students consisting of undergraduates, postgraduates and school teachers. Post-school data analysis showed that students improved significantly both in thinking critically like scientists, and also in gaining astronomical knowledge. For more information, see the WAISSYA 2015 Report.


    The 2017 summer school was held at the Ghana Space Science and Technology Institute in Accra, Ghana July 31 to August 5, 2017. It was well attended by many undergraduates and post-graduates from Ghana, Nigeria, and neighboring countries. Thanks to the extensive help of our host for making WAISSYA 2017 a huge success! Alumni from the school have continued to talk about what they learned as well as astronomy opportunities and news via the help of social media. To read some stories from the school, check out the WAISSYA 2017 blog and have a look at the WAISSYA 2017 Report!

    2019 and Beyond

    During late 2017, preparations were already beginning for WAISSYA 2019. So far the team has not only organized itself to maintain ongoing work, but also found a promising long-term venue in Abuja, Nigeria. Going forward we will continue to foster connections and grow our organization in order to reach the most students we can. We are optimistic that our proven program will continue to flourish through our growing alumni population and team of professional scientists and educators.

    You can continue to follow our progress on Facebook @WAISSYA and twitter @WAISSYA.