Science 'not a cure-all for society's ills'

Ho Ai Li, Straits Times 10 Mar 08;

To deal with problems like climate change, people must be taught to live in harmony with nature.

WHILE many East Asian leaders are armed with science degrees, those skills are not a cure-all for pressing social problems like terrorism and the growing gap between the rich and poor, Foreign Minister George Yeo said yesterday.

Educators across the region must focus on more than just science, which has increasingly been seen as a magic pill for society's ills.

'Science does not teach how members of different races and religions should live together. Science alone cannot defeat Al-Qaeda,' he said.

'Worse, scientific development has run so far ahead of human wisdom, we are becoming a danger to ourselves.'

Mr Yeo made these comments at the Raffles International Conference on Education, at Raffles Junior College.

The inaugural two-day gathering brings together almost 400 delegates from about 30 countries to talk about issues of curriculum and community.

Mr Yeo said education is crucial to a society's development and should take into account local needs - from the rugged steppes of northern Asia to the urban jungles of Singapore.

When it comes to analysing a society's strengths and weaknesses, one invariably finds them reflected deep in the education system, he said.

To deal with problems like climate change, people must be taught to live in harmony with nature.

'The moral sense that man is a part of nature also has to be instilled in students. Without that moral sense of man being a part of nature, we do great harm to ourselves.

'Science by itself cannot make us fully human - Spock in Star Trek is only half-human,' he said.

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