A Chinese initiative sets out to train 1.3 billion scientists–one farmer at a time.

Mara Hvistendahl in Seed Magazine:

26_chinese_crowdDuring the Cultural Revolution of the late 1960s and early 70s, China persecuted scientists and sent the Red Guard to the farthest reaches of the country to promote anti-intellectualism. This year, China is again sending delegates to the countryside, but this time they are spreading a very different sort of message: the virtues of scientific progress.

As part of its 15-year plan to develop nationwide science and technology literacy, particularly among farmers and migrant workers, Beijing has rolled out an 860 million renminbi ($111 million) initiative to introduce China’s vast, rural adult population to science. Formally established last year, the program uses unusual means such as “science trains” and “science circuses” to deliver its message. Academics and educators now tour the country, traversing even remote areas of Inner Mongolia and Gansu provinces, where they greet locals, hand out materials and books translated into the nation’s minority languages, and unfurl red banners that read “Spread the Scientific Spirit.”

More here.