Scientific Literacy Upgrade for Citizens Put into Action
By Li Lin Xu
Thanks to a series of scientific outreach programs, China has made great progress in improving the scientific literacy of its citizens and pledged to further improve the public's scientific literacy in a new action plan released by the State Council of China, on June 26.
The document, titled National Action Plan for Scientific Literacy 2021-2035, has drawn a detailed roadmap to achieve the following targets: the proportion of scientifically literate Chinese citizens will exceed 15 percent by 2025 and the figure is expected to reach 25 percent by 2030.
The latest statistics from the China Association for Science and Technology (CAST) has shown that the proportion of scientifically literate Chinese citizens has increased to 10.56 percent in 2020, up 8.96 percent compared with that of 2005.
Scientific literacy refers to the spirit of scientific aspiration, knowledge of basic science and scientific methods, as well as applying them in analyzing and solving problems. It is an important part of the overall population quality and a foundation for the progress of social civilization.
Five key groups will benefit
Aimed to cultivate rational thinking, develop a civilized, healthy, green and eco-friendly lifestyle, and to improve labor, production and innovation skills, the document has listed five improvement actions China will undertake in the 14th Five-Year Plan period.
These actions will target five key groups: teenagers, farmers, industrial workers, the elderly, leading cadres and civil servants.
For teenagers, there will be a series of measures to arouse their curiosity and imagination, develop their interest, and creative awareness and abilities in science.
Specifically, science education and science popularization will be enhanced in the whole chain of education, that is, from elementary school to university. In particular, more efforts will be made to improve the infrastructure and resources of science education in rural areas.
In addition, more online training efforts will be made for science teachers, which will see 100,000 science and technology tutors trained each year over the next five years.
For farmers, the improvement actions will focus on ecological and environmental protection, energy and resource conservation, green production, disaster prevention and mitigation and public health.
China is expected to train more than 10 million farmers and to cultivate one million leaders in innovation and entrepreneurship in rural areas during the next five years.
For industrial workers, the focus will be on improving their professional skills and innovative abilities. A series of innovation campaigns, craftsmanship competitions and training activities will be held.
Information and health are the highlights for the elderly. More efforts will be made to train them on smart-device applications and easier access to social-health services.
As for leading cadres and civil servants, decision-making abilities based on science is the primary area of upskilling. Scientific literacy will be given more weight in the recruitment and performance evaluation of civil servants.
Five major projects will be implemented
According to the document, China will deepen the supply-side reform of science popularization and elevate the supply's effectiveness and efficiency.
From 2021 to 2025, China will implement the following 5 major projects: popularization of sci-tech resources, upgrading informatization of science popularization, science popularization infrastructure, upgrading of science popularization ability at grass-roots level, and international exchanges and cooperation in scientific literacy.
To upgrade science popularization ability at grass-roots level, China will establish an emergency science popularization coordination mechanism, improve the science popularization service system, and enhance the development of full-time science popularization personnel.
China will establish a development association for college talents of science popularization, invest more efforts to develop high-level talents of science popularization , and move to setup a major of science popularization.
The project of international exchanges and cooperation in scientific literacy shows that China will expand the channels of international sci-tech, cultural and people-to-people exchanges, enrich the contents of international cooperation, actively engage in global governance and promote sci-tech and people-to-people exchanges in the Belt and Road Initiative.
Focusing on the common challenges faced by sustainable development of humankind, such as future development, food security, energy security, human health, risk of disaster and climate change, China will enhance the sci-tech and people-to-people exchanges in the areas of youth, women, education, media and culture.
Meanwhile, China will also seek to set out international standards in scientific literacy and provide Chinese solutions in multilateral events.
"International cooperation shall be strengthened in science popularization," said Meng Qinghai, vice-president of the CAST. "Improving scientific literacy can benefit an individual's overall development, help modernize a country's governing systems and capability, and contribute to building a community with a shared future for mankind."