Monday, June 20, 2011

Egypt moves in the right direction on science

by Salman Hameed

Yes, Egypt is going through a tough transition and yes, its economy has taken a beating. But, it is moving in the right direction. There are surely going to be more setbacks - but the important thing is to appreciate an open society that feels that it has a voice. It pays off in the long-run. Egypt's transition to a fully pluralistic and democratic society is still a ways off, but at least its science is starting to head in a positive direction. From last week's Nature:

Four months after Egypt's revolution toppled the authoritarian regime of President Hosni Mubarak, science and education are slowly emerging from the post-revolution chaos as national priorities. Revitalizing Egypt's sclerotic and chronically underfunded research, education and innovation systems will require sweeping reforms and substantial rises in spending. But modest funding increases and a warmer political climate for research and education have left Egyptian scientists feeling more optimistic than ever before.
"We are going to build our economy to be based on democracy, and science and technology," says Maged Al-Sherbiny, president of the Academy of Scientific Research and Technology in Cairo and assistant minister for research.
On 1 June, the Egyptian cabinet approved the first post-revolution budget, which boosted science despite the severe social and economic crises gripping the country. Research spending will rise from E£2.4 billion (US$404 million) to E£3 billion in the 2011–12 financial year. The education budget also jumped, by 16% to E£55.7 billion.
This is still only 0.4% of the GDP - much below the recommended investment of 1-2%. But the budget goals are aiming for this level by 2015. We will see if this actually happens or not, and if all of this is used in a productive manner. But at present, it is great to see the public ownership of the process and the optimism of the scientists.

Read the full story here.


Akbar said...

I don't know how long this change in Egypt would last with neighbours which would go to any length in sponsoring to undo the change for the sake of protecting their own brutal regimes.

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