Minister Abiy Ahmed said that the Ministry of Science and Technology has a 10-year plan to inspire higher educational institutions to deeply involve in innovation driven research.

By Abebe Wolde Giorgis |

Higher education is introduced in the country in the 1950’s, but in the past successive decades its contribution for the development of technology based economic progress is insignificant. Because the day-to-day engagement of the higher education is still inclined more towards teaching and learning rather than research for innovation. Of course, it is undeniable fact that the institutions played crucial role in disseminating knowledge to the society.

Recently, when the Federal Science and Technology Minister organized a work shop jointly with universities and research institutions entitled: From facilitator to main actor, the Science and Technology Minister Abiy Ahmed said that the Ministry has a 10-year plan to inspire higher educational institutions to deeply involve in innovation driven research and to that end, it provides financial support.

He also said that to attain the middle-income status by 2025, the institutions have great responsibility in producing not only intellectuals equipped with various professions but also who have better attitude to show concern for the nation’s destiny. According to Abiy, in order to meet the nation’s development needs, educational institutions should produce more researchers in the field of science such as information communication technology, health, engineering and bio- technology. He also said that the ratio of scientific researchers to the public in Ethiopia is 95 to 1 million which is far below even by the Sub-Saharan African countries standard. In contrary to this, in most developing countries the ratio is 1000 to 1 million; hence, reversing the situation should be a priority agenda. Abiy further said that in order to join the middle-income status by 2025 the current ratio should grow by 400 per cent and the rate will reach to 500 researchers to 1 million people. He also said that the nation needs skilled human resource with professional integrity to reach the middle-income status.

He, further more, said that there is an effort to link universities with industries though it is not sufficient. Hence, to close the gap, the Ministry of Science and Technology organized forums that facilitate nation’s development objectives.

According to Abiy, the research will be supported with satellite which sends information from the atmosphere regarding natural resources found on the earth. In addition to these, the media which inculcates science ideas and works for 24 hours will be established. Unless educational institutions target their goal on producing trained personnel that exert their mental energy for innovation, Science and Technology could be a burden rather than an asset.

Research findings reveal that centuries ago there were studies on Astronomy in Borena and Waldiba Monastery; however, due to lack of proper documentation and record, the knowledge could end up without transferring to the next generation, Abiy stated.

The State Minister of Science and Technology Dr. Getaun Mekuria on his part said that, innovating in Science and Technology requires cooperation between all stakeholders; if things go as usual, achieving development goal is unthinkable. As to him, to embark on the right development truck, scientific research has to focus on exploring the driving force of economic progress. Most developing countries including Ethiopia are focusing on natural resources for their economy.

The Middle East oil exporting countries categorized in this group. Their petrol resource is not renewable and after some time, it will be dwindled and dried up. Hence, looking other means of economy is essential. In our case, our resource is land which is suitable for farm, cheep labor which can be an input in various economic activities. Thus, whatever scientific research carries out should target on how the resources could be changed in to economic wealth. There are also countries which have technology driven economy. Germany, Japan and South Korea could be mentioned here. Their technology served as a base for their export led development. It is value added economy and their scientific research is devoted for advancing technology. They have stable economy which is not vulnerable to shock. Other East Asian countries have innovation driven economy underpinned by scientific research.

In our case, as a developing country, we need to transfer technology from abroad; strengthening local capacity is essential. Side by side with importing technology, learning and adopting and properly disposing is essential. However, the current technology adaptation practice did not consider the objective reality of the nation. In general, there is very little interest in adopting foreign technology. Based on the demand, developing capacity that enables to select and adopt conducive technology is essential.

For adopting and utilizing imported technology, there needs to produce more efficient technicians, engineers and scientists. But currently, most of our economic sectors have no capable human resources who can efficiently work to transfer foreign technology. Therefore, educational institutions should regard this reality when they craft their curriculum. In addition, their school enrollment should go in line with their accommodating capacity in order not to compromise the quality of education.

In conclusion, higher educational institutions side by side with their teaching and learning engagement should look for enhancing scientific research which brings wealth through technological innovation.

Source: Ethiopian Herald
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