Thursday, October 09, 2008
A Universal Requirement, Not an Empty Slogan...
Science and Technology Education is a vital part of the future. This is a fact that is not often debated and one that has been actively championed by UNESCO. So how then, with the world becoming increasingly flat and the need for leaders to reverse the environmental damage and increase sustainability, is the interest, support, and pursuit of science education declining? Our current environmental standing has made science education is increasingly more vital and with the growing digital divide in a technology dependant world the vulnerability of our future is exposed. The fluency of students in both science and technology education is dwindling as student choose to pursue degrees in fields that produce more financial stability and provide more comfortable work hours.
In December of 2004 UNESCO acknowledged the increasing need for more science and technology proficient leaders to emerge from our education systems. They also highlighted the decline in graduates entering into the science and technology fields as careers at a time when both had become pivotal contributing foundations in our society and economy. UNESCO noted this paradox in a four page dossier:
"Britain’s Royal Society recently warned parliament about a sharp drop in the number of secondary school students taking mathematics, physics and chemistry at A-level (end of secondary cycle) and at university. The same trend can be seen in France, Germany and other industrialized countries. Students in developing countries are also increasingly disinterested, says Orlando Hall-Rose, head of UNESCO’s Science and Technology Education Section. In fact, most countries are facing the biggest lack of student interest in science over the last thirty years. According to the OECD, the number of science and engineering graduates is falling, just as demand for scientific advances and technological innovation is increasing. A strange paradox, since no period in history has been more penetrated by and dependent on the natural sciences than the twentieth century."
UNESCO strives to ensure that education continues to be a basic human right in this ever-evolving flatting of the world. The realization that science and technology should be remain at the forefront of core content to ensure the sustainability of our societies urged UNESCO to utilize their own organization to impact the declining numbers. The acting assistant Director-General for Education, Aïcha Bah Diallo, addressed this concern along with the connection between Education for All (EFA) and science and technology education. His bottom line, science and technology education is a universal requirement and if it isn’t we need to make it so.
"Two sectors within UNESCO –Education and Natural Sciences –have developed a joint programme through which they are assisting policymakers, curriculum developers, trainers and educators,empowering them to improve the quality, relevance and attractiveness of their science and technology education policies and adapting them to the needs of students and teachers. Emphasis is being placed on adapting programmes to the local socio-cultural contexts. These programmes need to have a bearing on what is happening in the community, whether it is desertification, over-population, pollution, diseases, lack of water or energy resources, etc. Science and technology education contributes to three of the Education for All goals: attainment of life skills for youth (Goal 3), elimination of gender disparities in education (Goal 5) and enhancement of the overall quality of education (Goal 6). It is above all about ensuring sustainable development. Science and technology education is a universal requirement, not an empty slogan."