The public understanding of science is necessary for any modern society. In western and developed countries, the debate has centred on these three main aspects of science literacy:

  1. An understanding of scientific practices
  2. Knowledge of scientific facts, its concepts and vocabulary to make individual decisions
  3. An understanding of science as a social process involving the gaining and assignment of expertise, public policy, funding etc.
But for most of the developing world, the public understanding of science is about the most basic issues of life - the provision of clean water, adequate food and maintaining a healthy family. In addition, the post-2015 Development Agenda has recognised that science literacy at the citizen level is essential for increasing the possibility of a sustainable planet. There is a growing body of evidence that poverty and lack of access to high-quality schooling continues to result in many communities around the world with severely limited 'knowledge landscapes'. HWDI have co-sponsored a comprehensive landscape research survey in the field of Science Literacy (SL) in developing countries. This was undertaken by the Network for Information and Digital Access (NIDA) in 2016 and the resulting report is now available. An important part of the research and report are the examples of recent or ongoing programmes and projects that illustrate innovative approaches to improving science literacy in the agricultural, health, environmental and women's education fields. HWDI is utilising the findings of this research as it formulates its overall SL programme.