The prime minister’s chief science advisor, Professor Sir Peter Gluckman, says government ministries need to make more use of science and scientists when developing and implementing policy. He is calling for the Ministry of Education and other ministries to appoint a science advisor.
In his report, The Role of Evidence in Policy Formation and Implementation, Peter Gluckman audited government ministries. He says there is “little consistency” in the way government ministries such as the Ministry of Education use research evidence in government.
“Worryingly, some officials had limited understanding of the scientific process of knowledge production, or were uncertain about it. In addition, they were not clear on how research-based evidence could be used to support policy processes,” he writes.
“Rather, it seemed that some preferred to work from their own beliefs or rely on their own experience. At its extreme, I find this deficiency to be unacceptable.”
“Education policy is an area where it is easy for received wisdom to determine policy. Values are often conflated with evidence, again making obvious the need for independent scientific advice.”
Peter Gluckman calls for the Ministry of Education to appoint a ‘broadly experienced scientist’ with ‘significant national and international mana’ whose job would be to curate expertise, engage as a peer with other scientists, and critically appraise evidential claims.[hr]
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