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Part 1: Towards the 21st Century
Chapter 3: The Relationship Between Science and Technology and Society in the 21st Century
Section 2: Responding to a Knowledge-Based Society
4. Enhancement of Science and Technology Education

Because all members of the public must play a part in a knowledge-based society, it is desirable that education be enhanced as the best opportunity to acquire basic knowledge concerning science and technology, and that the opportunities be enhanced for adults who have completed their education to obtain knowledge about ever-developing science and technology.

(1) The Shift of Young People Away from Science and Technology

Focusing on the today's young people who will be responsible for the 21st century, recently problems such as the drop in academic ability and the shift away from science and technology are frequently brought up.

According to an international comparative survey conducted in 1995, the average academic ability of Japanese junior high school students in mathematics and science still remains at a top level, but it is evident that awareness of these subjects is low ( Table 15 ). Recently this awareness is also dropping even further.

Table 15: Percentage of Students Who Like Arithmetic, Mathematics and Science (1995)

It is pointed out that the mean academic ability of today's university students is lower than the past, and that in general the desire, interest, motivation and attitude towards learning are also lower than the past.

(2) To Make Science and Technology More Familiar

Museums and science centers must be developed and enhanced in both quality and quantity as bases in which various citizens are able to have hands-on experience about science and technology by incorporating advanced exhibits which adults can also enjoy, as well as projects which children can have interest.

Opening up universities and research institutes to the general public is also an effective ways to increase opportunities for people to come into contact with science and technology information.

In order to give children an interest in science and technology, it is necessary to incorporate experiments and hands-on learning to the classes in elementary and secondary education, to foster the ability to learn for oneself, and to develop problem-solving ability.

It is also necessary to work towards creating a situation in which teachers can come into contact with leading-edge science and technology, and to promote improvements and innovations to teachers' instruction methods. To do so it is important to expand the training opportunities for teachers.

There is also a need for university education to fuse the humanities and sciences, and it is necessary to enhance the educational activities and organizations not only relating to natural sciences but also relating to human and social sciences.

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