Navigation path

Left navigation

Additional tools

Other available languages: FR DE


Brussels, 27 November 2006

European Commission looks to experts to stimulate science education

The European Commission has today announced the creation of a group to look at what action can be taken in Europe to support science education in primary and secondary schools. The group will be chaired by Michel Rocard, former French prime minister and now Member of the European Parliament. The four other group members are distinguished scientists with a long lasting experience and a particular interest in science education: Peter Csermely, Doris Jorde, Dieter Lenzen and Harriet Wallberg-Henriksson. The group will formulate policy recommendations designed to improve the way that Europe approaches science teaching and ensure future generations are properly prepared for a society and economy that relies on knowledge as a driving force.

“A truly knowledge-based society needs its citizens to be involved” said European Science and Research Commissioner, Janez Potočnik. “We have to do more to prepare our young people for a future that will require good scientific knowledge and an understanding of technology.”

European Commissioner for Education, Training and Culture, Ján Figel’ said : “Groups like the one launched today will help the European Commission in addressing the complex issue of equipping every citizen with the skills needed to live and work in the knowledge society”

The group is chaired by Michel Rocard MEP and is composed of:

  • Peter CSERMELY of Semmelweis University, Budapest, a Molecular Biologist and Winner of the 2005 Descartes Prize for Communication;
  • Doris JORDE of the University of Oslo, President of the European Science Education Research Association;
  • Dieter LENZEN, President of the Freie Universität Berlin and former Chairman of the German Society for Science Education;
  • Harriet WALLBERG-HENRIKSSON, President of Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm and former member of the Government's expert panels at the Swedish Ministry of Education and Science.

Its rapporteur is Valérie HEMMO, who has authored several studies on this issue.

The European Commission is creating this group in response to a growing body of evidence that shows that young people across Europe are losing interest in key science studies. Recent work by the OECD indicates that the number of young people entering university is increasing, but they choose to study fields other than science and in certain fields such as the physical sciences, the number of students is decreasing.

According to a 2005 Eurobarometer, over 80% of the adult population believe that young people's interest in science is essential for our future prosperity, while only 15% are satisfied with the quality of science classes in school.

Science curricula have become too heavy and fail to put science within its historical and social context. Without this, children’s imagination and observation skills are not properly developed.

There are various initiatives already underway at EU level that will be examined by the group as possible models for future policy.

"Pollen", based on the famous French "La main à la pâte" programme, is a project that has a community approach, based on an inquiry-based learning and teaching model. Pollen aims to stimulate and support science teaching and learning in primary schools, so that children can observe, question and understand the world that surrounds them and develop scientific reasoning and problem solving.

"Nucleus" is a cluster of projects involving Europe's top international research organisations, networks of museums and science centres as well as partners from universities across Europe. It targets young people at both the primary and more specifically secondary school level. In addition to establishing a European Science education internet portal (, a very popular "Science in Schools" journal has been published aimed at teachers and pupils, and the next "Science on Stage" festival will take place in Grenoble on 2-6 April 2007.

A recent report by Eurydice, the information network on education in Europe showed that the topology of science education across Europe is complex, but identified certain common challenges, such as the introduction of new teaching techniques, personalising curricula and standardising assessments.

For more information:

The Pollen project:

The Nucleus project:


Side Bar