Improve scientific literacy of the entire people and create an innovative social foundation

Building an innovative country requires the participation of the whole people and raising the scientific literacy of all citizens. It is an important social basis for building an innovative country. With the unprecedented and extensive impact of modern science and technology on the development of human society and the personal life of citizens, especially with the advent of the era of knowledge economy, the competition among countries has been transferred from the original product competition, industrial competition, and economic structure competition to the competition of the national literacy. Therefore, improving citizens’ scientific literacy has drawn increasingly attention from governments and society all over the world.

Practice of innovative countries shows that the literacy of the people, especially scientific literacy, has become the most fundamental factor affecting the development of the modern economy and social progress. The innovative countries generally attach great importance to improving their nationals’ scientific literacy. In 1994, the United States announced the scientific policy report Science and National Interest issued by President Bill Clinton. The report proposed five “national goals” for developing science. The fifth is “Improving the People’s Scientific Literacy”. The report argues that having scientific and technological knowledge is not only the key to personal understanding and appreciation of the modern world, but also the key to constantly meeting new challenges. Therefore, “in order to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century, the United States should become a society popularizing scientific knowledge”. In its 1995 strategic plan, the National Science Foundation stresses once again that it is incumbent on the National Foundations to make efforts for a more public understanding of science and technology in order to raise the scientific literacy of the American people.

Britain has a tradition of attaching importance to the cause of science. At the same time, Britain attaches great importance to enhancing public awareness of science and promoting public awareness. In 1986, the Committee on the Public Understanding of Science of UK published a long report titled Public Understanding Science. One basic point of the report is, “The public’s better understanding of science and technology is an important factor that contributes to the country’s prosperity... Is an important long-term goal for the entire country and must be sustained”. It also believes that “it is an urgent task to enhance public understanding of science to ensure the well-being of the entire nation”.1 In 1996, the British government further defined “enhancing public awareness of science, engineering and technology” as one of the five major goals for its development in science and technology so as to better meet the requirements of modern society for the scientific literacy of a qualified citizen to further promote the progress of science and technology and social development.

Japan’s history of catching up and surpassing development has also been closely linked to the continuous improvement of its nationals’ scientific literacy. In this regard, Science and Technology Agency of Japan, in summarizing the postwar development of Japan, promulgated the White Paper on Science and Technology in 1995,

at the end of the Second World War, the biggest asset preserved in our country was the people’s cleverness and wisdom cultivated through hard work and training. After tremendous changes and the reallocation of inputs to human resources and resources in the field of science and technology, our nationals have combined wisdom with unrelenting efforts to continuously solve all kinds of difficulties encountered and pragmatically face the issues raised by the times, and thus achieved today’s prosperity.2

Improve national innovation system and build effective systemic guarantee

One of the important features of an innovative country is its relatively complete national innovation system. The OECD report Knowledge-Based Economy in 1996 argues that in a knowledge-based economy, “the structure of a national innovation system is an important economic determinant. The structure is made up of exchanges and mutual relations in the development of science and technology between industry, government and academia”.3 The national innovation system can be regarded as a social network formed by specific countries in order to enhance efficiency in innovation and integrate innovative elements. The status quo of the national innovation system determines the performance of national innovation and competitiveness of a country.

Although there is no best model for a national innovation system, innovative countries generally attach importance to strengthening the construction of a national innovation system based on national conditions so as to improve the national innovation capability. The Office of Science and Technology Policy of White House explicitly proposed to strengthen the national innovation system, including strengthening investment, optimizing the environment, improving incentives, and taking the high-tech original innovation and value realization as strategic priorities to lead the world’s new trend. Japan, as the world’s second-largest economic power, with strong competitive strength, faced with the new competitive situation in the 1990s; tried its best to adjust its innovation strategy; shaped a viable R&D system; and, at the same time, actively promoted the “Strategy of Building a Country Based on Intellectual Property Rights” so as to promote technological innovation and proliferation through the improvement of intellectual property policies. The EU, with integrating innovation capability of countries in the region as the core, has put forward specific policies for improving the EU’s transnational innovation system. In order to change its status as a world leader in science and due to lack of technological innovation, the United Kingdom has launched a new strategic plan for science and technology called “investment in innovation”. South Korea has clearly proposed the basic direction and specific strategies for building a new national innovation system in the Vision for South Korea 2025 in the long-term science and technology development plan for the future.

In the process of perfecting the national innovation system in an innovative country, the government plays a very important role. On the one hand, the government has the consciousness of constantly adjusting the national innovation system to adapt to the new competitive environment. On the other hand, the government, while striving to eliminate the institutional obstacles affecting and restricting innovation, actively legislates new policies and strategies to innovate and effectively integrate national innovation resources. It can be said that continuously strengthening the construction of a national innovation system and being highly aware of the important mission of the government in advancing the construction of a national innovation system are important experiences for innovative countries to continuously upgrade and maintain their national innovation capability.

 
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