The Evolution of Science Education survey report released on July 13 includes insights from 398 teachers in *22 countries and regions—with most respondents from the United Kingdom (44%) and India (19%). While there are local nuances, there are also notable consistencies in key areas such as the science curriculum’s relevance in the future and how well it prepares pupils to navigate and address challenges the world will face, such as climate change and the evolving role of technology.
Fewer than half of the respondents (46 per cent) who took part in The Evolution of Science Educationsurvey by Oxford University Press believe that the science curriculum in their country prepares children for the challenges our world will face in the future. Only 31 per cent of teachers surveyed believe that science education in their country is fit for the future, according to a report published by Oxford University Press, the world’s largest university press.
Teachers surveyed believe the core purpose of science education should be inspiring learners to engage with science, teaching underpinning scientific concepts, teaching skills to enable effective experimentation, and helping learners to achieve a range of desirable outcomes through science. To ensure science education evolves and remains relevant in the future, teachers believe there should be more focus on climate change as well as tackling fake news and adapting faster to technological and societal change.
The research was undertaken alongside OUP’s active involvement in developing the science framework for the Programme for International Assessment (PISA) 2025. Teachers were asked to recommend ways in which science curricula might evolvein order to remain relevant to today’s world, and that of tomorrow. Their recommendations included:
- Science education should continue to prioritize practical skills through experimentation in the classroom.
- Content needs to be up-to-date and prepare learners for the future.
- There is a need for a greater connection between the science that is being taught in the classroom and what is happening in the world outside.
- Teachers requested a rebalancing of exams – away from the current focus on knowledge, towards assessing the application of science.
Sivaramakrishnan Venkateswaran, Managing Director – Oxford University Press India said, “The study of science helps to fuel curiosity in young minds and makes them think about solutions to challenges in everyday life. Its relevance in a pandemic-afflicted world has only grown. It was important to sense check what science teachers felt about how their subject needed to evolve.”
COVID-19 has undoubtedly had an impact on science teaching in the last year, particularly restricting practical experimentation in the classroom, but the paper highlights numerous other issues that have been brought to light by the pandemic and need to be resolved.
As regards India, from the questions asked, on average science teachers in India are more optimistic that the current curriculum for science is meeting the needs of pupils now, and in the future. 15 per cent of respondents strongly agree that the curriculum adequately prepares students for challenges they will face in the world, opposed to six per cent in Hong Kong and five percent in the United Kingdom. Furthermore, 80 per cent of respondents agree that the science curriculum taught in schools enables students to become scientifically literate and active citizens, opposed to 59 per cent in the United Kingdom and 67 per cent in Hong Kong. Of the 398 teachers that responded in the report, 74 were from India.
Andreas Schleicher, Director for Education and Skills, and Special Advisor on Education Policy to the Secretary-General at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)said,“I always enjoy hearing teacher’s views on the future of education and welcome this report. The scientific challenges of the past year with the pandemic and the ever-growing signs of climate change mean that there has never been a more important time to focus on science, empowering students to thrive in a changing world. I look forward to continuing this conversation about the future of science education, particularly when we release the new PISA 2025 science framework next year.”
You can view the report here.