Monday, July 19, 2010

Interview: Mr. Ahn Byong-man, Minister of Education, Science & Technology

The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology is striving to secure core basic & source technologies by fostering highly-competitive global talents and building innovative capacity of universities and research institutes with an aim to develop future growth engines.
Interview with Mr. Ahn Byong-man, Minister of Education Science & Technology.

>>The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MEST) is pursuing various reform policies to strengthen the national competitiveness in education, science and technology under the vision to promote education, science and technology as a building block to turn Korea into a global first-class advanced country.
The education policy is especially focused on strengthening autonomy of the schools and improving the public education under the goal of nurturing students' creativity and consideration for others so that they may grow to become talents who can unleash creativity based on their knowledge and show consideration for others.
In addition, the MEST is striving to secure core basic & source technologies by fostering highly-competitive global talents and building innovative capacity of universities and research institutes with an aim to develop future growth engines.
This year, the MEST will see to it that the policies implemented so far take a firm root in schools and research institutes and produce fruitful results for the general public.
>>The main purpose of the education reform is to improve satisfaction with the public education through enhanced autonomy, diversity and accountability of schools, which will ultimately help reduce private education expenditure and cultivate creative human resources.
To this end, the MEST is taking concrete steps such as diversifying school types to provide greater options for students and parents and introducing and establishing the "admissions officer system" that takes into consideration students' potential and aptitude in highschool and university entrance test.
The measures such as the National Assessment of StudentsAcademic Performance, Teacher Evaluation System and School Information Disclosure System are also being implemented for the purpose of enhancing the autonomy and accountability of schools.
In terms of R&D, which are the main sectors that you are concentrating on to make the country an R&D hub ? How are you cooperating with global research centers and experts?
Among many factors required to make Korea a global R&D hub, the Korean government is paying a lot of attention to nurturing quality researchers and laying a solid research basis.
In this regard, the Korean government is implementing the projects such as WCU (World Class University) and WCI (World Class Institute) that are designed to enhance national R&D capability and foster excellent researchers. Many outstanding overseas scholars are invited to Korea through these projects to help cultivate highly-competitive Korean researchers and build capacity of Korean research institutes.
On top of that, the Korean government intends to create International Science Business Belt as a global R&D hub which involves the establishment of Basic Science Institute, construction of a heavy ion accelerator, creation of a basis for the business and building of a global living environment.
>>The Korean government has continued to expand its R&D investment even amid the global economic crisis and implemented various measures including tax benefit and deregulation in an effort to support corporate R&D centers and encourage the enterprises for boosting their R&D investments.
With such measures in place, the overseas companies in Korea are expected to be offered greater opportunities to participate in the R&D projects of the Government or the private sector of Korea and to benefit from the supportive measures for the corporate research centers to the same extent as domestic companies.
Meanwhile, the Korean companies' awareness of the need for cooperation with academia or research institutes still remains low, despite the diverse government-level efforts to facilitate cooperation among industry, academia and research institutes to constantly expand the R&D investments and improve the investment efficiency.
The Korean universities or research institutes, given this circumstance, will be able to carve out a new niche market by jointly participating in the national R&D projects with overseas companies in Korea which have abundant experiences of collaboration with academia or research institutions.
>>In May 2005, "Space Development Promotion Act" was enacted in Korea, providing a legal basis to carry out national space program in a more systematic way. Based on this Act, the Government established Space Development Promotion Basic Plan (Space Vision 2016, 2007~2016) defining the national space program for the next ten years.
The Basic Plan laid out the concrete action plans for the development of satellite and launching vehicle technology and strengthening of domestic space industry, workforce, and infrastructures, under the goal of attaining the indigenous space capabilities and ultimately joining the ranks of advanced countries in space.
Our country is currently working on KOMPSAT (Korea Multi-Purpose Satellite) Project with a view to accomplishing independence of technology with respect to earth observation satellite bus with high-resolution by 2016.
Currently KOMPSAT-2 is in its fourth year of operation since 2006, and KOMPSAT-5 & -3 are scheduled to be launched into low orbit by 2011. Also under development is KOMPSAT-3A that enables night observation with its infrared camera. Though not successful, we have gained valuable experiences in launching vehicle technologies through the development and launch of KSLV-1 (Korea Space Launch Vehicle-1).
Moreover, Korea's first geostationary orbit satellite, COMS (Communication, Ocean and Meteorological Satellite), has successfully reached its targeted orbit after being launched from the Guiana Space Center, France on 27 June 2010. This COMS is currently in test operation, with its full operation scheduled by the end of this year.