Science and technology are the key drivers in the acceleration of development in a society. Science and technology directly alter the living standards of the people, and the way they connect and communicate with each other. Technological improvements provide a root to the advancement of economic development, health system and infrastructure. The development of science and technology in developing countries plays a crucial role in the reform of poverty level, and technological advancement can be considered as an engine of growth. Technology is a better weapon to tackle the poverty level with and enhance the economic growth of a developing country. Modernisation of any society is a manifestation of the implementation of science and technology by those nations. The modernisation is solely dependent upon the development in science and technology. The categorisation of the countries is based upon economic development, which, in turn, is dependent upon the application and importance of science and technology among the public of that nation. Modernisation turns villages into towns and towns into cities.
Countries like South Korea, Japan, Thailand and Indonesia were considered as countries with poor policies and low discipline with no advancement, but today they have created ripples across the globe in the field of research and exploration. Where does Pakistan stand in the field of research and exploration? We need to look at our policies and where we are heading in the fields of science and technology.
Our curriculum and ways of teaching focus upon the reproduction of bookish knowledge without its resonance to the utilisation need of the country. Books written by international authors can give advanced knowledge and understanding but cannot explain the needs of a country, and an individual’s own frame of reference within the norms and mores of society and cultural needs. Presenting the subject fundamentals without stimulation has no fruitful consequences.
Focusing upon quantity of publication without looking at its quality is also a problem in the analysis of research skills of a person. At least one quality paper should be kept mandatory for every faculty member in order to keep him or her in touch with research and new ongoing projects in every field.
The involvement of university teaching academia in the research is another hindrance to the growth of science and technology. In some universities heads of departments feel threatened by the qualifications of some subordinate or colleague publishing a high quality paper. The extra burden and excessive workload restrict the involvement of faculty personnel in research even with good basic knowledge and command over a subject. The modest communication and attitude of weak collaboration also need reforms.
The updated and quality research demands us to invite scientists and scholars, and arrange conferences, seminars and workshops on important topics. Developed countries keep special funds for the training of their academia. All these activities require significant funding and resources, and government should provide some of these resources.
A notable number of research scholars are coming back to the homeland after the completion of their degrees. Practical steps are needed to facilitate these scholars and keep them involved in the latest developments in the field of research. Regular meetings and get-togethers of these scholars on local and national levels will be a source of ‘brain storming’ that will be beneficial for them, for institutes and for the whole nation.
Some organisations like the Buraq Planetary Society, Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, Pakistan Science Club and Khwarizmi Science Society have been established without any government support in order to involve students in creative activities. But all these are at a fundamental level that needs to be overhauled to the advanced level by a systematic involvement of one or the other governmental funding agencies.
Mainly, Pakistan’s areas of research in science and technology revolve around nuclear weapons, ballistic technology, anti-aircraft guns and other defence related scientific knowledge. It is now the demand of the time to minimise the martial approach towards the use of science and technology, and put most of the efforts in the socio-economic development and promotion of peace.
It is the need of the time to equip our youth with the latest facilities for their research and to motivate our youth towards science and technology, as they are the future of the nation and they are the ones who can lead the nation. The exposure of students to ongoing problems of society can attract some of them towards a search to find a solution of the problems. As the wise saying goes, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”