» UNESCO and Thailand join forces to bolster astronomy and light science education
29.08.2017 - ODG

UNESCO and Thailand join forces to bolster astronomy and light science education

On 29 August 2017, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova signed the Minister of Science and Technology of Thailand, H.E. Dr Atchaka Sibunruang, for the establishment in Chiang Mai, of the International Training Centre in Astronomy under the auspices of UNESCO.

This is the first institution of its kind in the network of UNESCO’s Category II centres, which will act as a knowledge transfer hub for young researchers, schools teachers and students from Southeast Asia, Africa and Latin America, and collaborate closely with the International Basic Sciences Programme of UNESCO.

“Over the last hundred years, we have seen ground-breaking discoveries that have changed the way we see and understand the universe,” said the Director-General. “But there are still so many frontiers to explore -- and this is why ‘blue sky research’ and fundamental research has perhaps never been so important, for societies everywhere, for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, for humanity as a whole.”

“We must continue to push back the frontiers of knowledge -- and this can only be done through cooperation, through dialogue and exchange,” declared the Director-General. “This is the importance of the International Training Centre in Astronomy.” She welcomed the Institute’s focus on supporting school teachers and students, especially girls, drawing attention to the concurrent UNESCO international policy symposium on STEM education for girls taking place in Bangkok. 

The Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Atchaka Sibunruang noted the priority her country places on nurturing scientific talents and spreading scientific knowledge for sustainability. This includes the integration of science and technology across the school curriculum; strengthening connectivity in rural areas; the holding of large science fairs for children and youth, and the promotion of environmental protection and sustainable tourism.

The Director of the National Astronomical Research Institute of Thailand, which will host the Centre, affirmed his commitment to advance “Astronomy for All” and deliver SDG projects that will address global challenges. The Centre is an initiative to follow up on the International Year of Light 2015 and the International Year of Astronomy 2009.

The signing ceremony took place at Government House, in the presence of H.E. Dr Teerakiat Jareonsettasin, Minister of Education and Chair of the National Commission for UNESCO.

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