Education, research are key to our future

How does a nation become competitive in tomorrow’s world? What human resources will make it successful?
Where should a country focus its resources to secure a leading role in the world of nations? What industries, what studies will its citizens need?
How did Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis create Blackberry—a worldwide leader in secure hand-held devices? How did Canada spawn the most famous robotic arm in the world . . . the Canadarm?
South Korea announced last week that it has set goals of winning Nobel prizes in the fields of chemistry and physics. And the government is setting out to attract some of the brightest researchers and academics in the world to prestigious Korean universities.
South Korea believes that knowledge gained in pure science will assist it in becoming a world leader in those fields of study, and in the future will aid Korea’s competitive growth.
The United States for decades seemed to have the grip on creating knowledge and then delivering products from that knowledge to the rest of the world.
MIT, Columbia, Stanford, and Johns Hopkins are renowned for their number of Nobel Prize winners.
Other nations also have realized that knowledge will propel their citizens to prosperity and will create new jobs for the new economies of the world.
South Korea is looking for young scientists and then will fully fund their research for up to five years.
History has shown that a nation’s competitiveness in basic science creates a nation’s technological competitiveness.
Canada, using the most recent data, funds 26,500 students through the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).
Canada wants to be a nation of discoverers and innovators. And over the past 10 years has funded more than $7 billion in basic research.
Most of that research is done in universities across Canada.
Some of the research goes to creating new products, some to designing new processes, and some to improving products or services.
Canada’s future also lies in education and in research. As my generation learned, a high school education is not adequate in today’s world. Our children are learning that the good jobs require education beyond the post-secondary level.
Boards of education are called upon to improve the success and graduation level of students entering into secondary schools. As parents, we must encourage our children to pursue more education.
As a nation, we must encourage new generations to follow the untrodden path of Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis to create the new products. Canadian governments must continue to fund projects like the Canadian Light Source and Synchrotron found at the University of Saskatchewan.
Education, and developing new technologies and unimagined new products, will drive our economy and job opportunities through the 21st century.
And along the way we will create more Canadian Nobel laureates.

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