Xi urges enhancing scientific literacy

Source:China Daily
Updated:2018-09-18 09:12:15

Wan Gang, chairman of the China Association for Science and Technology, addresses the World Conference on Science Literacy in Beijing on Monday. FENG YONGBIN/CHINA DAILY

  President Xi Jinping said on Monday that China will work with other countries to promote scientific education and literacy domestically and abroad, leading to more innovations that can benefit national and social sustainable development.

  Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, made the comment in a congratulatory letter to the opening ceremony of the World Conference on Science Literacy in Beijing on Monday.

  The three-day conference is organized by the China Association for Science and Technology, which is marking its 60th anniversary this year.

  Organizers called it the first global conference dedicated to promoting science literacy among the public.

  Science innovation and science popularization are equally important, and China has attached great importance to both, Xi said in the letter, which was read by Wang Huning, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee.

  China will actively work with other countries to spread scientific knowledge, uphold the scientific spirit, foster scientific thought, promote science-based methods and contribute to building a community with a shared future for mankind, Xi said. Scientific literacy often refers to the ability to understand, appreciate and use science at work or in everyday life. In 2002, China became the first country to issue laws dedicated to promoting scientific literacy, officials said.

  By 2020, China aims to have 10 percent of its population become scientifically literate, according to the State Council.

  The figure is at 8.5 percent in 2018, according to the 10th national survey on scientific literacy.

  New scientific breakthroughs are reshaping the world, helping societies tackle common issues such as food security, health and climate change, Wang said.

  However, new technologies can also create new security, legal and ethical issues, he said.

  Increasing scientific literacy can help the public understand and support new technologies and effectively deal with new issues posed by innovations, Wang added.

  Antonio Guterres, United Nations secretary-general, said in his congratulatory letter to the conference that many countries have not benefited from science due to poverty, lack of quality education and a digital divideinequality caused by a lack of access to information technologies.

  Wan Gang, chairman of CAST, said improving scientific literacy is key for tackling common challenges and fulfilling the UN's 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

  "During our dialogues with international colleagues, we felt it crucial to consolidate consensus and deepen our cooperation in global strategic topics such as sustainable development," Wan said.

  More than 1,000 scientists and representatives from 38 countries and regions, as well as 23 international scientific organizations and 58 national scientific institutes, are attending the conference, he said.

  "We hope the conference voices our common aspiration for improving public scientific literacy and creating global joint initiatives, and that it becomes a milestone in the history of global scientific literacy," Wan said.

  Huai Jinpeng, executive vice-president of CAST, said other countries can learn from China's experience in promoting scientific literacy, especially in rural and underdeveloped regions.

  China has created a vast fleet of science popularization caravans that travel to remote places and teach locals essential scientific knowledge that can benefit their lives, Huai said.

  The caravans have traveled more than 34 million kilometers and served around 200 million people, Huai said. There also are 164 "science popularization cavalry" teams that travel on horseback to deliver essential scientific advice to people living in extremely remote ethnic minority regions.

  International cooperation is key in promoting scientific literacy, Huai said. This year, the China Adolescents Science and Technology Innovation Contest invited more than 300 participants from more than 50 countries and regions, he said.

  "These events can strengthen China's cooperation with neighboring countries and international organizations through exchange and sharing of scientific resources," he said.

  However, China still has a huge gap with developed countries in terms of the percentage of population that is scientifically literate, Huai said. China also lacks high-quality popular science resources, and faces unbalanced development in urban and rural areas, he added.

  "We also hope to learn from other countries, and improve our working mechanisms for improving scientific literacy," he said.