SEOUL, KOREA — The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MEST) is actively pushing for the “Brain Return 500 Project” to attract young talents from abroad to the domestic science belt, a top official of the ministry said.
Noting that the ministry plans to actively foster science belt as the nation’s basic study stronghold this year, Minister of MEST Lee Ju-ho said, “The ministry projects to attract some 500 talents from abroad, including globally distinguished scientists and scholars, to Korea Basic Science Institute by 2017.”
Minister Lee said that the government will fully support research centers and universities to help them achieve an advanced study system by guaranteeing autonomy of study teams, introduction of open-type manpower system and encouraging innovative operation of basic science.
Commenting that the ministry has set the “realization of advanced top-tier country through fostering of talents” as the 2012 policy goal, Lee said, “The ministry will place focus on building an advanced study development system based on harmony and creation, while establishing a firm foothold of major education reform policies it has so far propelled.
“Related to this, the ministry will accelerate creation of R&D performance based on accumulated research results, while enhancing efficiency of R&D investment,” said the minister.
“For instance, we will expand the foundation for future-oriented R&D fields by strengthening assistance for the stem cell research team, building ‘Korea brain research center’ and accelerating technology development of carbon dioxide capture & storage (CCS),” he said.
The ministry aims to enhance technology self-reliance in the nuclear and space fields this year, while expanding the nation’s advancement into the global market in the sectors. “For an example, we will make efforts to predominate the unexplored nuclear market by exporting such nuclear technologies, including development of small and medium-sized system-integrated modular advanced reactor (SMART),” said Lee.
Along with this, the ministry plans to secure ability to develop Korean-type rockets and small and medium-sized satellites for exports.
Job Creation in the science and technology field
The ministry plans to create more jobs in the science and technology field to attract young talents this year. “MEST plans to establish the research fellow system, under which universities take charge of study, in a bid to expand employment of doctor-level manpower and enhance universities’ study ability,” said the minister.
In line with this, the ministry projects to foster 2,000 study equipment engineers by 2017 and extend financial assistance to universities employing them. It also plans to create 1,500 jobs for top-class researchers in the basic science sector by 2012 and expand the number to 3,000 by 2017.
“In particular, we are moving to help female scientists who left their past jobs in the past return to their posts by implementing a returnee program, which offers costs for research and educational training for study equipment operation,” he said.
It is planned to introduce the Korean –type grant method in an attempt to enhance the degree of immersion on basic study by readjusting the U.S.-type grant method in such a way as to suitable for the Korean situation. The ministry plans to build an advanced research and development system through settlement and spread of various fusion models.
“To effectively cope with the fusion and compound trend of science technology, the ministry will create the fund to accelerate fusion study and strengthen its existing assistance for fusion study institutions,” said Lee. “In addition, we will settle a new cooperative model between universities and state-funded research centers through establishment of the ocean science technology institute, while fostering the linkage between science technology specialized universities and basic science campuses,” he said.
Along with this, the ministry will actively push ahead with fusion talent education program to foster 10,000 science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) pioneers and designate 80 schools as STEAM leader schools.
Settlement of culture helps high school graduates land a job
The ministry will expand a system to help high school graduates attain a job first and enter university later, while fostering present specialized high schools as those centered on employment.
“Based on the frame of university structural reform it built in 2011, the ministry will make a strong push for specialized universities according to their function and field,” said the minister.
“Through industrial and academic cooperation and in-depth education for business start-ups, the ministry will make efforts to help university graduates land a job or establish a venture company,” he said.
For instance, it will establish an entrepreneurship center in 50 universities pursuing industrial and academic cooperation to provide students with specialized education service for business start-ups and extend financial supports for start-up groups.
From March 1, 2012, it will implement the “five-year old ‘nuri’ progress” system, under which all children aged five are able to receive preschool education at a kindergarten free of charge.
Under the program, households with a five-year old child can receive state supports amounting to KRW 177,000 every month in 2011, 200,000 in 2012 and 300,000 in 2016.
The ministry projects to readjust the portion of the people who failed to attain the basic academic standards from the earlier goal of 2.4 percent to a 1 percent level this year, while strengthening adaptation ability of students from multicultural families and families who defected from North Korea.
“In a campaign to donate education to society, the ministry will secure various and excellent manpower from enterprises, universities and state-run research centers and use them for teachers’ training, students’ future course in life and education on creation and human nature,” said the minister.
For the pan-national campaign, the ministry will encourage more than 100 enterprises, including Hyundai Motor, Samsung Economic Research Center and Samsung Electronics, to participate in the movement this year.
For instance, Hyundai Motor has been implementing an educational program for the “leadership course for school heads.” Under the Samsung Economic Research Center’s project, 100 CEOs are offering a special lecture on the students’ future course in life at schools.
Samsung Electronics, SKT and LG are also carrying out an educational program under the topic of creative experience. Tata Daewoo Commercial Vehicle is also offering the educational service for students from underprivileged and low-income families.
As a means of strengthening public education and reducing dependency on private education, the ministry will operate the after school program centered on consumers by using excellent private human resources from universities, media and enterprises, and bolstering its administrative supports.
“The ministry will strengthen personality education to foster talents with a right character through students’ autonomous activities, improvement of students’ language culture and prevention of violence at school,” he stressed.
Related to this, the ministry will increase the number of model schools to teach students about originality and human nature from 95 in 2011 to 200 in 2012.
“To actively foster future-oriented talents, we will also develop 100 English education models after reflecting regional schools’ characteristics and spread communication-oriented English education through the pilot implementation of National English Ability test (NEAT),” he said.
“At the same time, the ministry will develop two kinds of story-telling textbooks and establish the mathematics curriculum class on a pilot test to help students cultivate ability to solve problems with their own ability,” he said.
To improve students’ language culture, it will stage the Internet “sunfull” movement to fight cyber bullying and restore peace and civility. It will also expand infrastructure, including CCTV, to protect students from possible school violence.
“Along with this, the ministry will exert efforts to build an advanced education support system through introduction of advanced fiscal system, enhancement of teachers’ expertise, and smart education,” he said.
“In order to create the foundation for smart education, we will prepare for an application of digital textbook and cloud-based educational service,” said the minister.
Furthermore, the ministry plans to establish efficient education and research systems to cultivate the outstanding talents of Korea as the prominent scientists and engineers recognized by the world.
“The policy support will also be expanded to encourage many talented people to seek the career paths related to science and technology as well as to enable scientists and engineers to demonstrate their capacity with pride.
“In the coming years, the ministry will concentrate more on ensuring that the existing policies take firm root rather than developing new policies. To attain this goal, we will communicate more with those who are working in the education, science and technology sectors with an open-minded attitude,” he added.