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Recognising the national challenges in developing science

Recognising the national challenges in developing science literacy and skills

Ministers Joyce and Parata today announced the Science and Society Project. Its objective is to increase science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) skills of young people for the 21st century, and to improve science literacy across the broader population.

The chief executive of Science New Zealand, Anthony Scott, comments:

“These two challenges significantly influence our national potential for wealth and well-being. STEM-based innovation is the major driver of wealth creation around the world, as well as other social well-being essentials such as health and good environments.

“Economically, if New Zealand is to meet our high-value export targets, the private sector R&D staff numbers alone need to at least double.

“The scale of the challenge is shown by Crown Research Institutes, major employers of science researchers, now routinely recruiting more than 50 per cent of PhD-level staff from offshore.

“Science literacy is bound up with that challenge. Production of new knowledge often brings profound questions about whether or how to use that knowledge.

“So we all need to have a good grasp of concepts such as risk; and of science ideas and processes. That will make for a richer conversation, and ultimately a better outcome. STEM knowledge feeds into such discussions, but does not determine them. Society will always do that.”

“The Project indicates that it will explore ways in which teachers can be better supported. It will also explore new ways of encouraging pupils to enjoy the many aspects of science, technology, engineering and maths at school and develop a passion that can transfer into tertiary study.

“The knowledge and thinking skills developed in these areas set up a person for any number of different and rewarding career possibilities across a lifetime. They are as important in management offices, boardrooms, council chambers and Parliament as in a research lab.

“The Crown Research Institutes are heavily engaged in education and community activities as part of a vital ongoing conversation with our fellow New Zealanders. Science New Zealand strongly supports the joint initiative between education and science sectors, and looks forward to contributing to the draft project plan and to the reference group chaired by Sir Peter Gluckman.”

ENDS

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