Science education policy-making : eleven emerging issues

Fensham, Peter J. (2008) Science education policy-making : eleven emerging issues. UNESCO.

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The Perth Declaration on Science and Technology Education of 2007 expresses strong concern about the state of science and technology education worldwide and calls on governments to respond to a number of suggestions for establishing the structural conditions for their improved practice. The quality of school education in science and technology has never before been of such critical importance to governments. There are three imperatives for its critical importance. The first relates to the traditional role of science in schooling, namely the identification, motivation and initial preparation of those students who will go on to further studies for careers in all those professional fi elds that directly involve science and technology. A suffi cient supply of these professionals is vital to the economy of all countries and to the health of their citizens. In the 21st century they are recognised everywhere as key players in ensuring that industrial and economic development occurs in a socially and environmentally sustainable way. In many countries this supply is now falling seriously short and urgently needs to be addressed. The second imperative is that sustainable technological development and many other possible societal applications of science require the support of scientifically and technologically informed citizens. Without the support and understanding of citizens, technological development can all too easily serve short term and sectional interests. The longer term progress of the whole society is overlooked, citizens will be confused about what should, and what should not be supported, and reactive and the environment will continue to be destroyed rather than sustained. Sustainable development, and the potential that science and technology increasingly offers, involves societies in ways that can often interact strongly, with traditional values, and hence, making decisions about them involve major moral decisions. All students need to be prepared through their science and technology education to be able to participate actively as persons and as responsible citizens in these essential and exciting possibilities. This goal is far from being generally achieved at present, but pathways to it are now more clearly understood. The third imperative derives from the changes that are resulting from the application of digital technologies that are the most rapid, the most widespread, and probably the most pervasive influence that science has ever had on human society. We all, wherever we live, are part of a global communication society. Information exchange and access to it that have been hitherto the realm of the few, are now literally in the hands of individuals. This is leading to profound changes in the World of Work and in what is known as the Knowledge Society. Schooling is now being challenged to contribute to the development in students of an active repertoire of generic and subject-based competencies. This contrasts very strongly with existing priorities, in subjects like the sciences that have seen the size of a student’s a store of established knowledge as the key measure of success. Science and technology education needs to be a key component in developing these competencies. When you add to these imperatives, the possibility that a more effective education in science and technology will enable more and more citizens to delight in, and feel a share in the great human enterprise we call Science, the case for new policy decisions is compellingly urgent. What follows are the recommendations (and some supplementary notes) for policy makers to consider about more operational aspects for improving science and technology education. They are listed under headings that point to the issues within each of these aspects. In the full document, a background is provided to each set of issues, including the commonly current state of science and technology education. Associated with each recommendation for consideration are the positive Prospects that could follow from such decision making, and the necessary Prerequisites, if such bold policy decisions are to fl ow, as intended, into practice in science and technology classrooms.

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ID Code: 28358
Item Type: Report
Refereed: No
Keywords: Science Education Policy-Making, Science and Technology Education, Scientific Literacy, Professional Development of Science Teachers
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > EDUCATION SYSTEMS (130100)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > SPECIALIST STUDIES IN EDUCATION (130300) > Education Assessment and Evaluation (130303)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Office of Education Research
Current > Schools > School of Teacher Education & Leadership
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2008 UNESCO
Deposited On: 02 Nov 2009 00:59
Last Modified: 28 Mar 2013 08:54

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