Chinese scientists push for science in schools

May 1st, 2008 - 4:00 pm ICT by admin  

Washington, May 1 (IANS) A group of leading Chinese scientists have petitioned the country’s education authorities to extend the teaching of science to primary school students. In 2001, science courses were withdrawn from grade one and two curriculums - for children aged seven and eight - when new curriculum guidelines were implemented, although at the time European and US educators were looking at extending science education to five-year-old students.

Former minister Wie Yu, who is an electronics engineer, decried the decline of science education in primary schools.

“Science education for the higher primary grade students is no better,” said Wei, adding that science is seen as less important than other ‘auxiliary’ subjects such as art and sport.

National exhortations to increase public scientific literacy and boost innovation seem to have fallen on deaf ears, he said in Beijing recently.

Wei, now vice-chairman of the China Association for Science and Technology (CAST), informed that the letter, signed by more than 10 top Chinese academics, was received by the education authorities last month.

Behind the marginalisation of science education is the poor knowledge of education researchers and officials, Wei told SciDev.Net.

“Education is classified as a social discipline in China, so educators have poor knowledge and awareness of science. They simply think science is too difficult for lower-grade students younger than ten-year-olds,” Wei said.

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