The Science and Technology Policy Asian Network (STEPAN)

There is a strong demand in Asia to learn from the experience of their newly industrialized neighbours like the Republic of Korea. But this desire has not been matched by strong initiatives to help developing countries design appropriate science and technology (S&T) policies and diffuse them internationally.

Nor was there any clear network, until recently, for sharing S&T policy experiences with other developing countries. The Science and Technology Policy Asian Network (STEPAN) is now filling this void. STEPAN is co-ordinated through UNESCO’s Regional Bureau for Science in Asia, based in Jakarta.

Established in 1988, STEPAN is a network of researchers and institutions in the Asia-Pacific region focusing on research and training support for national (S&T) policy and management programs under the auspices of UNESCO. STEPAN provides an umbrella policy-level network to all other UNESCO science networks. As such, STEPAN provides a vehicle for raising issues from the agenda of the other networks to the senior policy levels of government.

STEPAN now counts 20 countries in its membership. The most recent member, the Islamic Republic of Iran, joined in April 2005. STEPAN has recently re-organized its structure to separate the Secretariat from the Chairmanship of the Network. The current Chairman (2005-2008) is the Philippines, and the UNESCO Jakarta Office serves as the permanent Secretariat. The Constitution was accordingly amended in 2005 to reflect the new structure.

STEPAN collaborates bi- or multilaterally with Member States to assist S&T policy formulation and the strategic implementation of the nation’s innovation vision. It also facilitates the development and use of S&T policy analysis tools, and advises governments on S&T and innovation policy.

The Science and Technology Policy of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic was formulated in collaboration with STEPAN and approved by the Lao government as their national policy. This is the first S&T policy of its kind in Laos and therefore has great historical significance. Their follow-up project, Implementation of National S&T Policy for Knowledge Societies, will be partially funded by UNESCO’s Participation Programme.

STEPAN worked together with UNESCO’s Beijing and Jakarta Offices to draft a policy report, A Master Plan for Science and Technology for Mongolia, for that country’s Ministry of Science, Technology, Education and Culture. The Draft Master Plan was subsequently presented to the policy-makers of Mongolia and became a major consideration in the formulation of Parliament Resolution No. 24, that defined the Science and Technology Master Plan (2007-2020) of Mongolia in 2007.

A science and technology policy review was also done for Brunei Darussalam in 2005. The recommendations arising from the review are now being taken up by the country in strengthening its science and technology as well as higher education systems.

To share information and learning resources on S&T policy development, STEPAN publishes a newsletter, STEPAN Update, twice a year, and also maintains a website

UNESCO’s Regional Bureau for Science in Asia

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