[EDITORIALS]Broaden science awareness

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[EDITORIALS]Broaden science awareness

The joint efforts by the government and private sector to shore up the field of the natural and applied sciences and its students are correct and desirable. The ultimate engine that sustains a nation is the industrial capability engendered by those in this field. We note with concern, however, that the government’s efforts, rather than fundamentally addressing the problem, appear to be stopgap measures.
The Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy said that it will finance the employment of an estimated 3,000 science graduates with a 10-billion-won ($8.5 million) budget this year. To small-and medium-sized businesses that employ such graduates, the ministry is considering extending 600,000 won per month per person for an initial six months.
These steps may improve the lot of some of the 190,000 unemployed young adults, but it does not redress a nationwide tendency for students to avoid majoring in the sciences. What will the government do if the companies fire the workers after six months? Is the latest measure the outcome of carefully studied policymaking or a feel-good policy that targets a certain party’s victory in the April National Assembly elections?
To date, there have been diverse and abundant government policies to boost the study of the natural and applied sciences. Thus, further government assistance can be too much of a good thing. What the government should do is change perceptions about job prospects for those graduating from medical schools or natural sciences by strengthening programs that provide an inside look into these professions at the secondary educational level. In many cases, students allow themselves to be persuaded by assurances of a stable and prosperous future only because they do not know about the diverse spectrum of jobs out there for them.
Students should know that there are a variety of professions they can choose by learning about the diverse aspects of industries. In particular, they should know the importance of the natural sciences such as physics, chemistry and math. Also, students enrolled in vocational high schools must know that their future is not limited to the vocation that they trained for. When such an environment is nurtured, the field of natural and applied sciences can flourish.
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