Science, the pivot of our survival, the origin of our present, the guardian of our future, unlimited and ever-increasing. But in Pakistan? Just another headache, an obstacle in our path of securing good grades. There are many factors for this mindset of ours. From the corruption of our rulers to the books taught at our schools, each contributes one way or another in creating such a society which knows not the importance of science.
Lets start from the most basic of all factors. The kind of education we receive at our schools. Science is quite an interesting subject, if
- taught by the right people,
- in the right way,
- through the right sources.
Unfortunately, majority of students have access to none of the above mentioned things. Sadly, a huge proportion of science teachers are those who were not able to get into their respective fields. That is, they do not have the required potential to learn science so they turn to teaching it. Ironic, eh? SO the strategy they adopt is to just read from the books, translate it in Urdu, elaborate by using some more technical terms and move on to the next topic. I myself have observed that whenever someone asks them questions, they shut them up by saying “What foolish questions?” or “Parhate hue tang mat kiya karo.” Some go even as far as too harass the students verbally on asking questions. This is the beginning of the deterioration of scientific minds. When they cannot ask questions, the don’t learn how to ask, how to think. They are taught to learn, not to question. They are made slaves for the capitalists instead of innovative individuals.
Secondly, everything we learn in schools is theoretical. We aren’t taught the physical applications of the laws and principles we study. Even if we are, it is just one or two technical examples and then move on. Sadly, our books are also quite outdated. What we learn today has been evolved tens of times. Years we spend learning all the contents of books only to find out that it was all in the past. No wonder that our youth are decades behind the other nations.
Being outdated is one thing, the books that we teach in our schools are not even a bit interesting. The authors don’t know how to compose a book that will attract the minds of the students, mainly because they are too inexperienced or simply copy-paste bits of information from different sources so the whole topic is unsymmetrical. Another thing is the fact that the same information is repeated over and over again in all the classes. For example, we learnt about atomic theories in 7th, then 9th, then 10th and again in first year. All of them the same, Dalton, Rutherford and Planck. Guys, it was enough learning it once, now kindly teach us something new, we aren’t going to school and colleges to learn the same things over and over again. All that changes in these variations is that they make the topics in higher classes even more confusing. How are people ever going to be attracted to such a method of learning science.
In our matriculation and intermediate levels, we are taught: “Bs ratta lga lo. Number aa jayen ge.” Now tell me, is ratta the scientific method of observations and deductions that we need to learn? What you learn is not science, science is the name of innovation, of deductions, of experiments, not just sitting on a chair for 7 hours a day just learning, learning and learning. Science is not grades or percentage or marks, it is the mind of humans that asks not remembers. Facts can be found in books but discovering new secrets is what we call science.
Now, on to the next step. We go into universities, our hopes and expectations high up in the sky, only to come crashing down to the earth when we realize that there are no resources for innovative research. Again we sit and learn and give exams and go home to forget it all. Then we graduate, again waiting for an opportunity to apply our knowledge in the practical world, just to find out there are none. So most of the researchers either go abroad or end up lecturing in colleges. And thus begins the decline of interest in scientific research. We have neither the mind set, the education nor the resources we need to conduct researches. The 30 years of life just go wasted as we lament the day we decided to go into research. Even today, we say we “build” cars and jets whereas all the components are imported from other countries and only put together in Pakistan. We have to look to China to launch our satellites instead of developing the technology to do it ourselves.
Now for the biggest issue we face: No Funds. Well, of course I don’t need to elaborate much on this topic. We all know how “busy” our government is “fighting” corruption by hoarding money so that the “corrupt” cannot steal it. (sarcasm intended). They simply don’t have the time to fund the universities, with their focus on just increasing the digits in their bank accounts. Even if some funds do make it through, 99% of them are “lost” as they are passed on to the researchers.
Now if we consider scientific research at many a public and private universities, the endeavor has merely become a source of grabbing funds from related government institutes and sister organizations such as Pakistan Science Foundation (PSF). Ongoing research in many subjects is far from practical utility and implications, and fails to address or attempt to address the real challenges faced by the country. The true spirit of scientific work for real implementation is lost.
Considering these issues, people tend to stay away from research as it ensures no prosperous future. So if we say that research holds no future, we should know that it is our fault that we don’t let it prosper. Our greed, our idiocy and our primal mentality have destroyed the R&D of our country. They do not justify our non-serious attitude towards research rather we should bring changes in ourselves so we could progress in the field of science.