ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Science and Technology stated in a written reply to the National Assembly (NA) that less than two per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is being spent on research and development. The reply further stated that this fact along with the low standards of science education in our educational institutions is the prime reason why Pakistan has been ranked 131 out of 141 countries in the Global Innovation Index (GII) 2015.
The GII survey is an annual ranking of the world economies’ innovation capabilities and results. It is co-published by Cornell University, INSEAD and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).
The ministry of science and technology submitted the written reply in the NA on Thursday to answer a query regarding the rankings raised by MNA Dawar Khan Kundi. He had also asked about the steps the ministry was taking to improve the situation.
The ministry concurred with the rankings and stated various reasons for the country’s dismal performance in this sector.
“Historically, allocations for research and development expenditure have always remained low,” the reply stated, adding that the current allocation is only 0.29% of GDP, which is far below world average as most developed countries spend between 2–4% of their GDP on research. A total number of 60,699 researchers are working in Pakistan with only 10,670 PhDs which “is very low as compared to developed countries,” the reply stated.
Similarly, the ministry reply also stated that the low standard of science education in schools and colleges was due to a lack of laboratory facilities, competent science teachers and “very low investment by the private sector in research and development.”
The Ministry claimed however that several steps have been taken for the development of science and technology in the country. Accordingly, it has devised the ‘Science and Technology Strategy 2014-2018’ for rapid development in the field.
The ministry stated that it had also conducted foresight studies in 11 areas and disseminated them among stakeholders. These areas of research and development included Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), energy, industry, education, health, agriculture, environment, electronics, water, biotechnology and nanotechnology.
The ministry also claimed that the present government had taken several steps to encourage scientists and researchers including civil awards in the category of science and technology, research productivity awards and increase in PhD allowances. Similarly, the government had accelerated the promotion for scientists and researchers working in the ministry’s research organisations. The ministry also stated that it was contemplating a proposal for granting special pay scales for scientists and researchers working under the ministry to stem brain drain.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 19th, 2016.