The World Science Forum was established back in 1999 and is a collaboration between UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) and ICSU (International Council for Science), two well-renowned organizations around the world. The first Forum was held in 2003, in Budapest (Hungary), and since then has been host every two years. The 2013 edition was held last week in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro.
Through the four days of the Forum, many conferences, speeches, plenaries and debates were performed, in which Science played a obvious key and central role, according to the World Science Forum's three main goals:
- «To provide major stakeholders with a global forum for dialogue on science and its role and responsibility in the 21st Century.»
- «To better understand and promote the need for science and scientific advice in political and economic decision-making.»
- «To exchange views and ideas on how to communicate science and its basic
values to the society at large and to the various stakeholder groups.»
Specifically, the most debated topics were the "scientific education challenges" and the "democratization of the information". Explaining this in other words, the need to explore new ways to make Science attractive, specially for young people who are still studying and still have not decided what they want to work in, and what can be done so that the information can become less expensive, widely available and easily exchangeable.
Of course, not all countries face the same problems. Takashi Onishi, president of the Japanese Science Council, stated that Japan has a high investment in scientific education, but it is not easy to lure young people into science. In Brazil, however, there are more complex problems to be faced, such as professor's low income and the small appreciation that society as a whole has for education, according to Luiz Davidovich, director of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences. According to Jorge Flores, Physics professor in the National Autonomous University of Mexico, South America has a broader problem, related with the way science is taught: «At least in Latin America, educational systems are incapable of producing a right science teaching».
One of the greatest conclusions from the this Forum is that knowledge, as a universal and widely available right, marks an important pillar in the success and the reduction of the inequalities around the world. Also, that knowledge should tend to be free and should flow easily and smoothly, without any obstacles. Obtaining education is not equally easy everywhere in the world - while some countries have no education fees at all, like Sweden, others have large fees, such as the US. In this second case, in order to pay the tuition, students must get money any way they can - one can work or win some money by entering a scolarship contest, which will surely bring down tuition fees.
Another interesting and important declaration was made by Anne Glover, scientific adviser of the European Union: «Science is part of our culture, just as music or the plastic arts, and can provide much joy and fun». And this is true. The idea people generally have about science is a little bit outdated and should be innovated. Probably then it will be easier to lure youngsters to science.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments.