As one of the important parallel session of World Conference on Science Literacy, The Belt and Road International Science Popularization Cooperation: Consensus and Prospective was held in Beijing on September 18. Representatives from major countries along the "Belt & Road" route, such as Malaysia, Mexico, Russia, Thailand, Japan and the United Kingdom, discussed and spoke freely on how to improve the public's scientific quality. The forum was commissioned by the China Association for Science and Technology and hosted by the Beijing International Exchange Association of China.
"Malaysia has been facing a decline in young people's interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) for almost a decade. The severe impact of this trend on Malaysia's socio-economy has caused widespread concerns in both government and industrial sectors." Professor Lee Sze Wei, Vice President of R&D Commercialization, Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR) and President of Steering Committee of KLESF, expressed his concern.
According to the latest figures from Malaysia's Ministry of Education, only about 20 percent of the country's high school students are studying science, a far from the government's goal of 60 percent studying science and 40 percent focusing on non-science subjects.
"One of the main reasons is that parents think it is hard to study science-related subjects. Even if the future career reward is very high, they do not want their children to study mathematics, physics and chemistry. They prefer their children to study law, finance and other majors." Professor Lee Sze Wei said.
This decline in youthful enthusiasm for science is not unique to Malaysia, as it is to varying degrees in many other "Belt & Road" countries.
Pasupha Chinvarasopak, Minister Counsellor, Science and Technology Section, Royal Thai Embassy, said that although this problem also is not big in Thailand, but the current domestic young people did not have too much on career development planning in the future, perhaps is a year-round climate peaceful, pleasant environment, most people have a very comfortable atmosphere.
At the conference, she shared her feelings about attending an international workshop in May, 2018. "I am impressed that China attaches great importance to technological innovation from the national government level, and at the same time attaches great importance to the dissemination and popularization of science and technology in society," she said. As Chinese President Xi has pointed out, scientific and technological innovation and the popularization of science are the two wings of innovation and development. In particular, we should attach equal importance to the popularization of science and technological innovation. What is worth learning is that China will encourage young people at the national level to participate in 'innovation and entrepreneurship', use scientific knowledge and innovation to drive every corner of society, and make China an innovative country in the world.
She has been interested in STEM education in Chinese secondary schools, such as Beijing No.35 middle school, because students participating in the program have the opportunity to use the science discovery laboratory of the Chinese Academy of Sciences at school. In the future, we plan to promote cooperation between Thai schools and Chinese secondary schools in student research projects and STEM education applications.
Both Chinese and foreign experts at the meeting agreed that to promote the popularization of science in the context of the "Belt & Road" initiative and implement the "Belt & Road" initiative of scientific and cultural exchanges, we need to stand on the broad vision, the height of greater popular science, internationalization, and work together actively.
Thus, during the forum, two important international cooperation.
First the 1st China-Russia Innovation and Entrepreneurship Competition launched, co-host by MSU Science Park and Beijing International Exchange Association of China, will focus on 4 priority fields of intelligent manufacturing, medicine & biotechnology, new energy & new materials and sustainable development.
Second, the signing ceremony of "Memorandum of Cooperation between China Research Institute for Science Popularization and Foro Consultivo Cientifico Y Technologico, A.C. Mexico". The two sides will carry out close exchange of visits and joint researches, marking a new chapter in science popularization cooperation between China and Mexico and an important supporting of "Belt & Road" scientific and cultural exchanges.