BEIJING - Only 3.27 percent of Chinese have basic scientific literacy, which is 20 years behind developed countries, according to a survey published by the China Association for Science and Technology (CAST) on Thursday.
Although basic scientific literacy is low in China, there has been a sharp increase from 1.6 percent in 2005 and 2.25 percent in 2007, said Ren Fujun, director of the China Research Institute for Science Popularization which carried out the survey for the CAST.
The latest national survey on scientific literacy is the eighth of its kind. More than 68,000 people were interviewed in it between November 2009 and May this year.
Yang Wenzhi, a science popularization director with the CAST, attributed the low literacy level to the country's slow development prior to the 1980s. Poor quality education was also to blame, he added.
However, "We are focused on catching up with the developed countries, and the gap is narrowing," Yang said.
In a bid to improve scientific literacy, Yang said the CAST had proposed more neighborhood-level science popularization activities in the coming five years.
The association also proposed that the country train more science popularization workers and develop the science popularization industry.
Yang said as more rural people move to the cities and get better access to scientific and technological information, the overall level of scientific literacy will increase quickly.
The proportion of rural residents with basic scientific literacy has more than doubled over the past five years, growing from 0.72 percent to the current 1.51 percent, according to the survey.
The proportion of urban residents with basic scientific literacy has increased from 2.37 percent to 4.79 percent over the same period.