Science Ministry to save basic science

By Park Hyung-ki
  • Published : Aug 1, 2014 - 21:23
  • Updated : Aug 1, 2014 - 21:25
South Korea’s Science, ICT and Future Planning Minister Choi Yang-hee said Friday that he will firmly confront the Ministry of Education and advise it not to reduce the number of science courses at schools nationwide.

The minister said that as a scientist, this would be unacceptable as the study and development of science and technology is imperative to creating a creative economy for the people and the country.

“I, myself, have engaged in basic science research, and will see to it that the field receives continuous funding to boost pride among Korean scientists,” Choi said at his first press conference at the Gwacheon government complex on Friday.
Science Minister Choi Yang-hee holds a press conference in Gwacheon, Gyeonngi Province, Friday. (Yonhap)

“Our task force team will continue to talk with the Education Ministry. The convergence of science and ICT technology can only bring success to Korea’s creative economy, by not just focusing on the growth of one field.”

He added the ministry has already pursued plans to increase its budget for basic science research, which will account for over 40 percent of that for the total state R&D by 2017, from about 38 percent in 2015.

This comes as an Education Ministry committee, mostly consisting of officials in the liberal arts field, recently decided to revise school curricula including reducing the number of science classes.

The science community responded immediately, calling the decision out-of-date, and urged the Science Ministry to step in and renegotiate with the Education Ministry, and to completely tear down the wall between science and the humanities at schools. In Korea, students have to choose whether they will study liberal arts or science in high school, and those, for instance, who select the humanities path cannot apply for science or engineering degrees at colleges.

Science and ICT Minister Choi said that his ministry cannot realize the incumbent Park Geun-hye administration’s creative economy vision alone, but will have to coordinate with other agencies.

“Our main task is using science and data to plan the future, and make sure that science and technology boost people’s happiness,” he said.

By Park Hyong-ki (