Only 31 per cent of science teachers from 22 countries and regions across the globe believe that science education in their country is fit for the future, according to a survey by the Oxford University Press.
As per the "Evolution of Science Education" survey, 66 per cent teachers, however, believe that the current science education allows learners to become scientifically literate and active citizens. The survey saw a participation of 398 teachers from 22 countries and regions with most respondents from the United Kingdom (44 per cent) and India (19 per cent).
"The study of science helps to fuel curiosity in young minds and makes them think about solutions to challenges in everyday life. Its relevance in a pandemic-afflicted world has only grown. It was important to sense-check what science teachers felt about how their subject needed to evolve," said Sivaramakrishnan Venkateswaran, Managing Director - Oxford University Press India.
"We are delighted with the strong participation of science teachers from India in our survey and their belief that the current curriculum is helping students to become scientifically literate and active citizens," he added. Mr Venkateswaran said that the research was undertaken alongside OUP's involvement in developing the science framework for the Programme for International Assessment (PISA) 2025 and teachers were asked to recommend ways in which science curricula might evolve in order to remain relevant to today's world, and that of tomorrow.
The recommendations made by teachers include that science education should continue to prioritise practical skills through experimentation in the classroom and content needs to be up-to-date and prepare learners for the future.
"There is a need for a greater connection between the science that is being taught in the classroom and what is happening in the world outside. Teachers requested a rebalancing of exams – away from the current focus on knowledge, towards assessing the application of science. "COVID-19 has undoubtedly had an impact on science teaching in the last year, particularly restricting practical experimentation in the classroom, but the paper highlights numerous other issues that have been brought to light by the pandemic and need to be resolved," the survey report said.
Teachers surveyed believe the core purpose of science education should be inspiring learners to engage with science, teaching underpinning scientific concepts, teaching skills to enable effective experimentation, and helping learners to achieve a range of desirable outcomes through science. "To ensure science education evolves and remains relevant in the future, teachers believe there should be more focus on climate change as well as tackling fake news and adapting faster to technological and societal change," the report said.
At least 15 per cent of respondents from India strongly agree that the curriculum adequately prepares students for challenges they will face in the world, opposed to six per cent in Hong Kong and five percent in the United Kingdom.
Furthermore, 80 per cent of respondents from India agreed that the science curriculum taught in schools enables students to become scientifically literate and active citizens, opposed to 59 per cent in the United Kingdom and 67 per cent in Hong Kong. Of the 398 teachers that responded in the report, 74 were from India.
Andreas Schleicher, Director for Education and Skills, and Special Advisor on Education Policy to the Secretary-General at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) said, "I always enjoy hearing teacher's views on the future of education and welcome this report. The scientific challenges of the past year with the pandemic and the ever-growing signs of climate change mean that there has never been a more important time to focus on science, empowering students to thrive in a changing world".
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