African Governments Lagging Behind in Scientific Development
AFRICA DOESN'T HAVE ENOUGH SCIENTISTS
A recent speech from the Dean of Science at the Botswana Technology
Center (BOTEC) highlighted the need for more African scientists and
scientific research. Professor Mpuchane challenged African govern-
ments to contribute more to science education.
African Governments Lagging Behind in Scientific Development -
Mmegi/The Reporter (Gaborone)
Posted to the web June 8, 2001
Edgar Tsimane Gaborone
Africa lags behind in scientific development with only 0.8 percent of
the total world scientific publications and very few patents result
from research work carried out in the continent.
Dean of the Faculty of Science Prof. Mpuchane said this during
CommQuest workshop at Botswana Technology Centre (BOTEC) on Monday.
The workshop aims to impart practical skills in the development of
interactive exhibits and encourage networking in the region for the
survival of science and technology.
Mpuchane said the 1992 UNESCO survey revealed that there were around
20,000 scientists and engineers in Africa representing 0.36 percent
of the world total compared with 2-5 scientists and engineers per
1000 people in Japan, United States and Europe. According to
Mpuchane, some parts of sub-Saharan Africa have only one scientist or
engineer per 10,000 of the population.
Mpuchane told guests that the status quo is attributed to several
reasons among them low investment in research and development, which
currently averages 0.2% of GNP compared with 2-3% in many developed
countries, brain drain- with more than 30,000 Africans holding PhD
living outside the continent, use of old and few equipment, too few
women in science and technology as well as lack of programmes that
develop a science culture early in life.
Prof. Mpuchane said the country's NDP 8 theme, "diversification for
sustainable development" should invest adequately in science adding
that Vision 2016 urges Botswana to build an educated and informed na-
tion and to emphasize science and technology in the education system.
She said possible solutions include the need to promote science and
technology education from primary education level adding that the out
come of the workshop should assist in that area.
"We need to demystify science so that more students venture into sci-
ence careers" Mpuchane emphasized. Mpuchane said cited a project
called "Eden" in Cornwall, United Kingdom which is made up of various
botanical gardens that depict various environments saying Botswana
could expose its students likewise to the Okavango, Kalahari and Sa-
vannah vegetation making learners interested in the study of their
The participation rate in tertiary education beyond the current 6%
needs to be increased according to Mpuchane adding that some coun-
tries have around 50%. Prof. Mpuchane also said there is the need to
expand facilities at the University of Botswana Science Faculty,
which can only take 700 students per annum "yet many more students
qualify for entry".
She added that if projections are anything to go by, by 2016 there
will be around 250,000 students in secondary schools with an annual
output of 50,000. Mpuchane said she hoped the government will con-
sider the challenge in the NDP.
[ Full text reproduced under 'fair use' by C. Labadie
[Reproduced with thanks from the Kabissa/Fahamu newsletter
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