Muslim countries must invest in R&D to progress: HEC chairman

The only way to progress for developing countries is to develop a knowledge economy, as highly skilled and trained human resource has now become the single most important factor in the process of socio-economic development.
This was stated by Dr. Atta-ur-Rahman, Chairman Higher Education Commission at an international Symposium on Science and Technology in Muslim countries, which was organised by the world’s leading scientific journal Nature at Rockefeller Foundation’s Conference and Study Centre in Belliagio, Italy.
Dr. Atta-ur-Rahman’s presentation was titled, “Science and Technology in OIC Member Countries- Challenges and Opportunities”.
“For developing countries, international collaborations can bring new thinking to help solve old problems. Muslim countries find themselves near the bottom of global tables in terms of the number of research articles published annually.
This is illustrated by the fact that the total number of international publications from the entire Islamic world taken together each year is less than those from a small European country such as Switzerland, said Dr. Atta-ur-Rahman.
This was largely because of the lack of vision in the leadership of the Islamic world who has miserably failed to invest in science. Thus the oil-rich Arab countries presently spend up to 7% of their GNPs on defense but only 0.2% on Research and Development.
The gap between the Muslim world and the West therefore continues to widen with each passing day.
He stressed the need for Muslim countries to lay more emphasis on research with relevance to national needs as well as creation of genuine world class Centres of Excellence.
He also shared his experiences of rebuilding higher education, science and technological infrastructure of Pakistan.
The Conference brought together leaders from science, government and civil society in the Muslim countries as well as the advanced countries and provided a stimulating opportunity for the gathered individuals to debate as to how to strengthen their science and technology bases and promote greater international collaboration.

Copyright PPI (Pakistan Press International), 2006