Revitalizing the sciences

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Revitalizing the sciences

Crises of science and engineering are nothing new. Half of students majoring in science and engineering are reportedly said to be planning to shift to other fields.
Students say science and engineering majors are treated poorly in society. When they evaluate their social status by looking at seniors who chose the same field, they feel discouraged. They know that their seniors contributed to our society a lot during the so-called economic development period.
Recently a female student at Postec gave up her major and applied for medical school. Her choice and the reasons behind it are shocking. She said she could not endure worrying about her future, even though she would have earned a doctoral degree in natural science.
In any country on Earth, science and engineering technology drive the nation’s economy. However, technology cannot improve through the money invested by the government alone.
Technology and technicians should first be respected. The reason Japan and Germany recovered quickly from defeat of World War II is that traditionally their countries have treated their engineers honorably. A number of high-level officials, such as China’s Hu Jintao, have degrees in science and engineering. This has helped their countries achieve remarkable economic growth.
Meanwhile, we put more emphasis on metaphysical rather than practical studies.
This thinking remains in every aspect of our society.
There is still a false understanding that science and engineering majors should only work in technological fields. In Japan, the government trains people with ample work experience and superiority to allow them to work in management. This is not the case in Korea. Non-science and non-engineering majors represent most of the country’s high officials.
More than 80 percent of high school graduates are entering universities in Korea. This is one of the highest rates in the world and has attributed to our chronic craze for higher education. Regardless of education levels, we should foster a society and corporate environment where everyone is treated well if they work hard.
This year, the term “Sandwich Korea” became popular. This warns of our future being literally sandwiched by Japan and China.
The government works hard to foster manpower in science, but this is not enough. The name of technical high schools have been changed to professional high schools, but practical measures should be taken.
Universities also should adopt a reformed curriculum in order to give science and engineering majors the chance to study a variety of areas, including liberal arts, before they start to work.
Before it gets too late, an effective solution should be hammered out to revitalize the field of science and engineering.
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