Thursday, 11 July 2013

The importance of science in schools

Today marks the beginning of the International Student Science Fair which, this year is being hosted by Camborne Science and International Academy. Twenty Seven schools from around the world will be taking part in science related competitions for the next four days. There are leading science schools from countries as diverse as Japan, Iran, India, the US, Canada, Malaysia, Singapore and Australia. The event will be opened by Liz Truss, the Schools Minister.

Camborne is the first school in Britain to host this prestigious event which is quite fitting for a town with such a great heritage in engineering and invention. Their decision to take part in such an international project is a great credit to the school and something Richard Trevithick, one of Britain’s greatest inventors, would have been proud of.

Today also sees Pool Academy host a new initiative run by the Institute of Physics which aims to enthuse students about science with a particular focus on medicine. The UK is a world leader in pharmaceuticals being home to some of the globe’s biggest companies and is also at the forefront of medical technology. This project helps students understand the connections between the science they learn at school and vital medical research.

I have been really encouraged by the energy that our local schools have put in to promoting science as a career choice for their pupils. The future success of our nation will depend on us maintaining a lead in technology. Britain has a lot going for it. Four of the world’s top ten universities are in the UK. Despite the perception that we don’t make anything anymore, we are still among the top ten manufacturing nations in the world and we lead in areas such as cyber technology, satellite communications, aerospace and pharmaceuticals. We manufacture and export more cars today than at any point in my lifetime with firms like Jaguar Land Rover making the best cars in the world.
However, the world is changing rapidly and we are in a global race. Thirty or so years ago, China and India combined accounted for little more that 3 percent of the world’s economic output. In a few years time, these huge countries with 2.5 billion people between them are predicted to account for almost half the world’s economy. According to a report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, about 40 percent of young degree-holders in leading countries will come from China and India by 2020. The United States and some European Union countries will produce about 25 percent.

The evidence is clear that a degree in science is the most valuable degree a student can take and is most likely to lead to a high paid job. We need to ensure that students choosing their GCSE’s today, are inspired by science and also understand its value both to their careers and to the future of our nation.

George Eustice can be contacted at george.eustice.mp@parliament.uk or 1 Trevenson Street, Camborne, Cornwall TR14 8JD or by telephone on 020 72197032.