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The education ministry plans to select 20 high schools for nurturing a new generation of researchers and engineers who can compete on a global basis, ministry sources said Wednesday.

The schools, to be dubbed super science high schools, will develop programs that have special emphasis on science and math. The ministry will give them the necessary equipment and arrange for researchers and engineers to lecture and help with laboratory experiments, the sources said.

The plan reflects increasing concerns about what is perceived as an aversion to science among Japanese students, the sources said.

A 1999 survey by the Netherlands-based International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement shows that only 55 percent of junior high school students in Japan like science.

The ratio is the second-lowest among the 23 countries that have science curricula similar to those in Japan.

The Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry will seek 700 million yen for the plan in the next fiscal year’s state budget, the sources said.

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