Nation aims for better science literacy

Students assemble and disassemble a 1:1 scale model satellite at a science and technology museum for young people in Beijing. [Photo/VCG]

Directive puts country on track to become a tech powerhouse

China aims for 15 percent of its citizens to acquire science literacy by 2025 and to raise that figure to 25 percent by 2035, according to a new national guideline on promoting science popularization released on Sunday.

The directive is the latest influential government document aimed at boosting public understanding and support for science and technology, which would facilitate China’s transformation into a science and technology powerhouse, officials said.

Issued by the general offices of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the State Council, China’s Cabinet, the directive says science popularization is as vital as science and technology innovation, a notion highlighted for the first time. by President Xi Jinping in 2016.

The guideline says China will significantly expand its public science communication and outreach services, especially at the local level. It will also call on society as a whole to foster a culture of learning about scientific knowledge.

The directive urges government agencies, academic societies, universities, research institutes, businesses and the media to increase the priority of popularizing science.

The document encourages science professionals to become more involved in science communication efforts and to share their work in an accessible way.

Wang Zhigang, Minister of Science and Technology, said in a post on the directive that it aims to remove many institutional barriers that hamper China’s science popularization efforts.

These measures will ensure that the national science popularization effort will have a more accurate division of labor, more efficient sharing of resources and better use of complementary benefits among institutions and agencies, he said.

“Science popularization plays a crucial role in developing the scientific spirit, fostering new scientific and technological talent, and creating a social environment conducive to innovation,” he said.

Li Meng, vice minister of science and technology, said at a press conference on Monday that the ministry will encourage the creation of quality works in popular science for exploratory sciences of significant public interest, such as carbon technologies, artificial intelligence, gene editing, quantum technologies and high-speed mobile internet.

China’s science popularization budget was 17 billion yuan ($2.4 billion) in 2020, 80% of which came from the government. Therefore, Li said, the directive encourages the private sector to participate in the popularization of science, such as by establishing new science education venues and providing funding.

Meng Qinghai, vice president of the China Association for Science and Technology, said improving public science literacy is one of CAST’s founding missions. “The directive now grants us another historic responsibility, and we will fully perform our duties.”

He said CAST has 3.45 million registered volunteers and 12 million information officers working locally for science communication.

“CAST will facilitate the integrated development of science popularization and local education, culture, public health, sports and tourism so that we can improve local organizations and bring scientific knowledge to those in need. “, did he declare.

Wang Ting, director of the China Research Institute for the Popularization of Science, said educating key demographic groups, namely teenagers, farmers, the elderly, industrial workers and civil servants, is vital for 15% of its population to acquire scientific knowledge by 2025. .

Seventeen provinces have included strengthening science literacy in their government assessment, and 24 provincial governments have included raising public science literacy in their local socio-economic development plans, Wang said.

“These measures will help mobilize different organizations to improve public science literacy, creating a solid foundation for the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation,” he said.

He added that China will strengthen international dialogue and cooperation in popularizing science, especially for young adults, women and those working in education, media and culture.

About Shirley L. Kreger

Check Also

How to increase data literacy in your organization

Image: Mykola/Adobe Stock Must-read big data coverage Just as Gutenberg’s movable-type printing press turned a …