minister pledges to revamp science
January 2003 India is to make a concerted effort to lure
home its scientists from abroad and to strip its scientific
agencies of excessive bureaucracy, under a science policy document
Minister Atal Bihari Vaijapee unveiled the Science and Technology
Policy 2003 policy at the Indian Science Congress in Bangalore
on 3 January. Nature
reports that Vaiapyee pledged to increase Indian spending on
research and development (R&D) by government and industry
to at least 2% of gross domestic product (GDP) by 2007, almost
double that spent last year. This would place India among the
nations of the world which devote the greatest share of GDP
comparison, Western Europe devotes an average 1.8% of GDP to
R&D, compared to 2.5% for the USA and 3.0% for Japan (World
Science Report, 1998).
appealed to India's ‘scientific diaspora’ to return to the country
to help him realize his ‘vision of making India a developed
science and technology secretary, Valangiman Ramamurthi, told
Nature that ‘the mechanisms will be in place very soon’
to attract home scientists who have left India. He said that
the new policy would be rapidly implemented and will give universities
and research institutions greater autonomy.
also said that that increasing Indian spending on R&D to
2% would not be difficult, as spending had already risen from
0.8% in 2000 to 1.08% in 2002.
reports government officials as saying that, under the policy,
science-based ministries will be run by scientists and engineers,
and other ministries will appoint scientific advisory committees.
They also say that selected universities and scientific institutions
will receive money to strengthen infrastructure. Details of
the funding will be left to a task force being set up to find
ways of encouraging private and public investment in research.
Conference on Science called on governments
to ensure stable funding for public research (para. 14, Science
Agenda) and aim for high-quality
scientific institutions capable of providing research and training
facilities in areas of specific interest (para. 7). Paragraph
41 urges governments to accord the highest priority to improving
science education at all levels, to raising public awareness
of science and to fostering its popularization The Science
Agenda also advocates putting in place adequate participatory
mechanisms to facilitate democratic debate on science policy
choices (para. 56).
recently, Brazilian president-elect Luis Inácio 'Lula'
da Silva pledged to double spending on science and technology
to 2% of gross domestic product by the end of his government's
term (WCS Newsletter, 27 November 2002).
K. S. Jayaraman, Nature (421, 101 (2003)),
courtesy of SciDev.Net
to Nature article : : http://www.nature.com/cgi-taf/Dynapage.taf?file=/nature/journal/v421/n6919/full/421101b_fs.html
to Brazilian news item
science to society
31 December 2002 An
analytical overview of the impact of the World Conference
on Science (Budapest, 1999) and of progress achieved in
initiating, implementing and developing follow-up. Prepared
by UNESCO at the specific request of the Conference itself,
the report addresses governments and international WCS partners,
as well as all other national and regional bodies interested
in taking part in the follow-up process.
World Conference on Science charted new territory for UNESCO.
Drawing on its unique comparative advantage of housing education,
natural and human sciences, communications and culture under
one roof, UNESCO responded to Budapest by adopting a more integrated
approach to problem-solving and the promotion of research and
science education through multilateral cooperation.
Organization’s Medium-Term Strategy for 2002-2007 gives full
weight to implementation of the Science Agenda, with
special emphasis on ‘freshwater and supporting ecosystems’ and
on ‘the ethics of science and technology’ as the absolute priorities
respectively of UNESCO’s science and social and human sciences
is in its clearing-house capacity that UNESCO has prepared the
present analytical report recommended by Budapest, in consultation
with its partners. Harnessing science to society is based
on information made available to UNESCO by Member States, United
Nations specialized agencies, intergovernmental and non-governmental
international organizations, regional institutions, science
networks, centres of excellence and educational establishments.
Naturally, the report also covers UNESCO’s own activity.
science to society overviews developments during the two
and a half years following the World Conference on Science;
it provides a factual basis for assessing the real impact of
the Conference. It can be concluded that the Budapest Conference
was a worthwhile event; visibly, over the initial period of
follow-up, it has inspired many partners to adopt innovative
approaches to fostering science. There appears to exist a real
need – and an opportunity – to further develop a worldwide partnership
that has the potential to multiply the returns on the Conference.
the report envisages the possibility that UNESCO will launch
a comprehensive follow-up consultation with partners in 2004
(Budapest+5) in its capacity as clearing-house. A consultation
in 2004 would have the advantage of enabling partners to evaluate
collectively the returns on the Conference thus far as well
as identify any necessary readjustments to the follow-up strategy.
political commitment that governments agreed upon in Budapest
in 1999 must be sustained if the Conference is to make a lasting
difference. Harnessing science to society more effectively is
not something that can be achieved overnight. But we cannot
afford to let ourselves fall back into a ‘business as usual’
complacency. We must keep up the momentum and that means re-galvanizing
our efforts and our collaboration.
report, prefaced by the Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro
Matsuura, is now available on-line at: http://www.unesco.org/science/wcs/report_wcs.pdf
launches public–private partnership to ‘INSPIRE’ science vocation
December 2002 The Prime Minister, Tony Blair and Education
and Skills Secretary, Estelle Morris have launched a new partnership
between the Government, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK),
the Technology Colleges Trust (TCT)
and Imperial College London to boost science education in schools
applying to become Science Colleges under the Government’s Specialist
has committed up to £1 million over the next four years to funding
the scheme, which will be known as INSPIRE
(INnovative Scheme for Post-docs in Research and Education).
Under the programme post-doctoral science researchers (post-docs)
from Imperial College who have recently completed their PhDs
will spend around half their time in selected specialist science
or combined science and engineering schools. At the same time,
they will study towards a post-graduate teaching qualification.
at the special launch of the programme at No.10, Downing Street
last summer, Tony Blair gave his strong support to the specialist
schools programme and welcomed the partnership of industry,
government and higher education, ‘The Government is committed
to excellence in science education and I am delighted that GlaxoSmithKline,
one of our major science-based companies, and Imperial College
are supporting this important initiative. This partnership programme
will benefit not only the pupils in the new specialist science
schools but also the pupils in their partner schools.
children of today will be our teachers, our scientists and our
doctors tomorrow – by investing in the education of our children
now, we are investing in the future of our economy and society.
would like to see many more specialist schools. We are expanding
the number significantly up to 1000 by this September, and at
least 1500 by 2005 – half of all secondary schools.
1500 is only a staging post. Once it has been achieved, we will
advance decisively in extending the opportunity for more schools
to achieve specialist status. We want to see all schools that
are capable of becoming specialist doing so. We are also introducing
new specialisms such as science and engineering. INSPIRE will
give an enormous boost to the launch of these new specialisms."
£1 million commitment from GSK will support an initial four-year
pilot of INSPIRE. It is hoped that the project will involve
up to 15 schools in and around the M25 area.
and Skills Secretary, Estelle Morris said ‘This is a major landmark
in introducing a modern blend of practical and professional
skills into the classroom. Pupils will benefit from new ways
of teaching science and engineering through the cutting edge
scientific knowledge that the post-docs will bring to their
lessons and the post-docs will gain valuable practical experience
on the road to a teaching qualification through working with
high quality, experienced teachers. I believe the post-docs
will be inspiring role models helping to spark interest in science
as a career choice for pupils at the specialist schools and
other schools in their communities.’
speaking today at the event Sir Richard Sykes, Rector of Imperial
College London said, ‘INSPIRE offers a unique opportunity to
create partnerships between industry, higher education and schools.
I believe that the Imperial post-docs will act as excellent
role models and stimulate broader enthusiasm for science. Britain
has a successful high technology industry, which depends on
the flow of well-qualified scientists and engineers. INSPIRE
has been developed to increase the number of young people specialising
in post-16 science courses enabling them to pursue degrees in
chemistry, physics and engineering and ultimately a career in
Younger, Senior Vice President, Corporate Communications and
Community Partnerships at GSK commented, ‘GSK employs around
25,000 people in the UK and spends £2.6 billion each year on
research and development worldwide. Encouraging young people
to choose a career in science is fundamental to the continued
success of our business.’
2.4 of the Science
Agenda is devoted to Science education. ‘Governments
should accord the highest priority to improving science education
at all levels’, the section begins, going on to say that ‘steps
need to be taken to promote the professional development of
teachers and educators in the face of change and special efforts
should be made to address the lack of appropriately trained
science teachers and educators.
Science Agenda also encourages innovative approaches
to stimulating a vocation in science and defining new public–private
partnerships. Curricula relating to science and technology should
encourage a scientific approach to problem-solving’, paragraph
37 recommends. ‘University–industry cooperation should be promoted
to assist engineering education and continuing vocational education
and to enhance responsiveness to the needs of industry and support
from industry to the education sector.’
are currently four categories of specialist school: Technology,
Language, Arts and Sports Colleges. Four new specialisms became
operational from September 2002: Science, Engineering, Business
and Enterprise and Mathematics and Computing. Since October,
it has also been possible for certain specialisms to be combined,
for example Science and Engineering.
schools are maintained secondary schools that teach the full
national curriculum but place a particular emphasis on teaching
and learning in their chosen specialism within the Specialist
Schools Programme. Specialist schools must raise £50,000 in
private-sector sponsorship (approximately US$80,000) and draw
up a four-year development plan to raise standards, increase
provision and encourage take-up in their specialist subject(s).
must also have a community development plan which shows how
they will share the benefits of good practice, expertise and
resources with other schools named in the plan and with identified
groups within their wider community. The Government believes
that widening schools’ options in this way will mean they are
able to develop their individual strengths, promote innovation
and spread good practice throughout the whole school system.
further information, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
celebrates its first year in promoting public communication of
2002 A group of Argentinian science journalists and science
communication experts from Villa Mercedes in San Luis province
have spent the past year promoting the public communication
of science and technology through their own association.
fledgling Asociación para la Comunicación de la
Ciencia y la Tecnología (ACPCT), founded in November
2001, has initiated projects to analyse the representation of
the sciences in the Latin American media (press, television
and radio); it has also studied science communication in local
and regional contexts. All of the projects have received sponsorship
is committed to fostering quality science journalism. One means
towards this end is science communication courses in universities,
which they plan to organize. Another is research. ACPCT has
begun researching science journalism in the region, as well
as public comprehension of science and the relations between
science journalism, science communication and education. The
ethical risks and social responsibility of science journalism
are another of its concerns.
the area of science popularisation, ACPCT is interacting with
non-profit organizations, state bodies, science departments,
universities and all other relevant institutions.
41 of the Science
Agenda stresses that ‘governments, international organizations
and relevant professional institutions should enhance or develop
programmes for the training of scientific journalists, communicators
and all those involved in increasing public awareness of science.’
Science Agenda recommends that an international programme
on promotion of scientific literacy and culture accessible to
all be considered in order to provide appropriate technology
and scientific inputs in an easily understandable form that
are conducive to the development of local communities.
authorities and funding institutions are urged to promote the
role of science museums and centres as important elements in
public education in science (para. 42).
is interested in exchanging experiences on common initiatives
within the large Ibero-American family.
information, go to: CIENCIAXXII@yahoo.com.ar
workshop trains women to use ICTs in reporting on the science
SciDev.Net and UNESCO are
organizing a five-day training workshop on the use of information
and communications technologies (ICTs) - in particular the Internet
- to improve reporting on the science of HIV/AIDS. The workshop
will take place in Uganda in April 2003. The deadline for applications
is 31 December (see below).
will target those who are (or would like to be) professionally
engaged in communicating HIV/AIDS information to the public
through print, radio or electronic means. There are 15 places,
all of which are reserved for women participants. All travel
and accommodation costs will be covered.
Conference on Science urged partners to disseminate
scientific information as broadly as possible to foster knowledge
and public debate, including through the use of ICTs.
paragraph 48 of the Science Agenda invites 'governments, international
organizations and relevant professional institutions to enhance
or develop programmes for the training of scientific journalists,
communicators and all those involved in increasing public awareness
must be received, either electronically or by fax, by 31 December
2002. Further information, as well as details of the application
procedure and an application form, may be found at www.scidev.net/hivworkshop/advance.html
pledges to double science budget
Brazilian president-elect Luis Inácio 'Lula' da Silva
has pledged to double spending on science and technology to
2% of gross domestic product by the end of his government's
term, with particular emphasis on increasing financial support
for basic research.
government, which will take office in January, has also promised
to improve science education and to set up a national science
communication programme involving scientific institutions, universities
and museums. José Ribamar Ferreira, President of the
Brazilian Association of Science Centres and Museums, is enthusiastic
about the government's proposals on science communication. 'There
are several science communication activities in Brazil, but
these are fragmented with no linkage among individuals and institutions
responsible for these activities', he says. 'A national programme
which has government support - both financially and politically
- will indeed be positive'.
won last month's elections with 62% of the votes, has said that
politically sensitive issues - such as energy, nuclear technology
and genetic engineering - would be widely and democratically
discussed. He is also expected to encourage universities, research
institutions and technological companies and other stakeholders
to have a greater role in formulating science and technology
Conference on Science called on governments to ensure stable
funding for public research (para. 14, Science
Agenda) and aim for high-quality scientific institutions
capable of providing research and training facilities in areas
of specific interest (para. 7). Paragraph 41 urges governments
to accord the highest priority to improving science education
at all levels, to raising public awareness of science and to
fostering its popularization The Science Agenda also
advocates putting in place adequate participatory mechanisms
to facilitate democratic debate on science policy choices (para.
November 2002 - It has been called 'blue gold'. Key to survival
and prosperity, shared water sources are frequent sources of
friction between neighbouring countries.
potential for conflict surrounding water issues prompted UNESCO's
International Hydrological Programme and Green Cross International,
an environmental non-governmental organization, to hold an international
conference on the prevention of water wars within and between
countries from 20 to 22 November.
Conflict to Cooperation in International Water Resources Management'
was held at the International Institute for Infrastructural,
Hydraulic and Environmental Engineering (IHE)
in Delft (The Netherlands).
than 200 experts from around the world participated in the open
conference sessions, which enabled experts from diverse regions
to exchange perspectives on extremely sensitive issues, such
as major dam construction projects in India and Lesotho, and
tensions over shared water resources in the Middle East or in
the Volta River basin shared by Burkina Faso and Ghana.
session took a prospective look at the impacts of climate, social
and technological changes by focusing specifically on the Mekong
River basin, where recurrent flooding and other problems have
led to increased co-operation among states situated on the banks
of rivers. Another studied international security agreements
for shared basins, like that of the Lempa River, which crosses
into Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
In section 2.5 of the Science Agenda devoted to Science for
peace and conflict resolution, paragraph 52 calls for governments
and the private sector to invest in sectors of science and technology
directly addressing issues that are at the root of potential
conflicts, such as energy use, competition for resources, and
pollution of air, soil and water.
information, write to email@example.com
Science gets a boost
2002 Education and Skills Secretary Estelle Morris has announced
that Science Year, the Government initiative to increase young
people’s interest and engagement in science, will be extended
until July 2003.
making the announcement in July, Ms Morris said ‘Extending Science
Year until July 2003 will allow us to create a lasting legacy
of resources and sustainable projects. There is a tremendous
desire among schools, the science community, business and key
partners to build on its success. ‘
Year is a national follow-up activity to the World Conference
on Science. Launched in September 2001, Science Year has already
given more than £4 million in new science resources to schools,
including digital microscopes, electronic whiteboards and biotechnology
kits. It has also improved links with industry through the Science
and Engineering Ambassadors scheme.
Year aims to raise awareness of science among young people aged
10–19 years and their key influences: parents and teachers.
with teachers, industry and the Government, Science Year is
the launchpad for a wide range of activities, initiatives and
programmes delivered by local and national organisations.
Year seeks to highlight the many creative opportunities that
exist in the workplace today for young people with a science
qualification and the importance and impact that science has
on our everyday lives.
Year is managed by the National Endowment for Science, Technology
and the Arts (NESTA)
on behalf of the Department for Education and Skills, and involving
their key partners the Association for Science Education (ASE)
and the British Association for the Advancement of Science (BA).
Year will continue to improve the profile and perception of
science,’ Ms Morris added, ‘involve communities in science and
strengthen and demonstrate links between schools, higher education
and industry. It will also continue to support work being done
to improve science teaching and learning in the early years
of secondary education and the aim to increase the uptake of
science in higher education and careers particularly for under-represented
groups, such as girls and minority ethnic groups.’
Mike Tomlinson, Director of Science Year said ‘Strategic partnerships
with organisations including the BA (British Association for
the Advancement of Science), ASE (Association for Science Education)
and Science Year ‘Friends’, have been a contributing factor
to the success of Science Year. These relationships have enabled
us to provide innovative equipment and resources to both primary
and secondary schools and we will continue to build new relationships
in the future.
I am delighted to announce that, following their sponsorship
of the Tomorrow’s World Roadshow Live, which is touring in celebration
of Science Year, we have made British Gas a Friend of Science
to the honour, Simon Waugh, Deputy Managing Director, British
Gas said, ‘We're absolutely delighted that British Gas are being
of Science Year' status. I believe it firmly underlines our
commitment to energy efficiency and in particular, our Think
Energy programme for schools, which we are continuing into the
forthcoming school year.’
about Science Year is available at www.scienceyear.com
States celebrate World Science Day
2002 - Worldwide, countries are preparing to celebrate the
Science Day for Peace and Development on 10 November Events
include conferences scheduled in scientific institutions, public
debates on science with the participation of policy-makers,
special events in museums and science parks, activities for
school children and press briefings.
of a World Science Day was first proposed by countries attending
the World Conference on Science organized by UNESCO and the
International Council for Science (ICSU)
in Budapest (Hungary) in June 1999. Adopted by UNESCO three
months later and established as 10 November of each year, the
annual Day provides an opportunity to renew national and international
commitment to the cause of science for peace and development
and to promote responsible use of scientific knowledge in the
service of society.
Headquarters in Paris, two roundtables are being organized to
mark the Day. These will bring together scientific figures,
Ministers of Science and Technology and people involved in building
science awareness or a science culture. One will be on Science
for Peace and Development, the other on Science for Peace; the
latter is being co-organized by the US
National Academy of Sciences, represented by Dr Farouk El
Baz. Other participants include Dr Torsten Weisel, Nobel Prize
for Physiology or Medicine in 1981 and Chair of the Human Rights
Committee at the US National Academy of Sciences, Professor
Menahem Yaari of the Centre for the Study of Rationality at
the Hebrew University in
Jerusalem (Israel) and Dr Sari Nusseibeh of the Palestine
Academy for Science and Technology.
day, an exhibition on Art and Science will be inaugurated at
UNESCO Paris Headquarters. The exhibition will show paintings
by Denis Fadier and photographs by mathematician Jean-François
about events around the world and at UNESCO.