Obstacles Hindering Scientific Research in Yemen [Archives:2001/46/Reportage]

November 12 2001

Yaser M. Al-Mayasi
Yemen Times
Due to the revolution, Yemen has made great progress in the field of education the country continues to steadily advance in this area. However, scientific research is still in a fledgling state due to the lack of sufficient resources required for conducting research, as well as the general weakness of the scientific and applied fields in the educational process. These obstacles greatly burden research in Yemen. In fact, the lack of support from the government has bred disappointment among Yemeni researchers. This situation requires an immediate remedy.
In a bid to know more about the obstacles hindering scientific research in Yemen, Yaser al-Mayasi of Yemen Times interviewed some people involved in scientific research:
Mohammed Abdulrahman
al-Zumar, Professor of Genetics of Plant & Pathology
I admit that the problems pertaining to scientific research principally lie within the political will and not the procedures, as Yemen doesn’t have clear polices regarding scientific research. Thus, we are living in a miserable scientific condition that requires earnest remedies instead of inattention. For example, in 1970 most of the attention on research was directed towards the agricultural sector, but the result of this research was nothing. Therefore, the government has to adopt clear policies regarding scientific research and its role in formulating the strategic orientation of the state. All people think that scientific research is instrumental in the decision-making process, but how does the government view scientific research? Is it a primary or a secondary concern?
Regarding universities, Sana’a University is now 32 years old. If one examined the balance sheet of the university, he will find no chapter allocated for scientific research. Surely, any university worldwide that has existed for 10 years should have the basic infrastructure for scientific research and higher education. Consequently, the decision-makers have to render care to scientific research and make it high on their agenda.
Saeed Abdullah Unqud, Professor at Aden University, Faculty of Agriculture
I believe that the lack of financial resources is the principal obstruction to the progress of scientific research in Yemen. Unfortunately, in Yemen we are always complaining about the lack of funds for financing scientific research. Thus, we call on the government to attach importance to this major issue by allocating sufficient funds for scientific research. Moreover, the funds should be allocated to scientific research and not to particular departments at universities. On the other hand, scientific research should be closely related to the development process, as it is impossible to achieve progress without scientific research. Some of the major obstacles hindering the progress of scientific research are the lack of clear policies and strategies. This is clearly the case in Sana’a and Aden Universities, as the two universities conduct the same research. Therefore this issue should be seriously tackled so as to avoid redundancy and the wasting of resources. In my opinion, it will only be possible to have a strong foundation for scientific research if we can find solutions to these problems.
Samira Abdu Ali, TV and cinema director
Admittedly, the obstacles facing research in our country are so many and they become more complex when the researcher conducts his research at his own expense. Regarding my case as a TV director, mostly there are no references pertaining to my specialization. This is a problem for me in addition to the other obstacles, the most important being the lack of funds.
Dr. Shawqi Mohammed Nassir, Faculty of Science, Department of Geology, Taiz University
I believe that scientific research and higher education are totally nonexistent, as obstacles are so many. This is not the case of Yemen only, but it is applicable to all the Arab world and most of the Third World countries. This obviously is ascribable to the lack of clear policies with regard to scientific research and higher education in general. An issue of major concern pertaining to scientific research is the importance of linking research with developmental and economic aspects, with the view of making research a fruitful process and not a mere academic process. In many cases, most of the funds allocated for research goes for petty cash; the least amount of money goes to the research process itself. Now, the government has to review its policies concerning scientific research in ways that serve the economy of the country. Moreover, scientific research has to cover all sciences, including social sciences and the humanities. Many people complain about the lack of funds allocated for scientific research – frankly speaking, all universities have budgets for scientific research and this has been allocated by the government, but the problem lies in how to use these funds.
Mohammed Ali Matash, Aden University
Undoubtedly, Yemen has made great progress in the field of education and scientific research, especially within the last three decades, and I think that the re-unification of the country has played a pivotal role in this regard. Regarding the difficulties impeding the progress of scientific research in Yemen, I think that the nonexistence of a well-prepared and complete database is one of the major contributing factors obstructing the progress of scientific research in Yemen. Moreover, the red tape in all government departments is another burden slowing the scientific research in our country. Evidently, the lack of modern specialized references at universities’ libraries and the unavailability of translated reference books are amongst the headaches Yemeni researchers face when beginning their research.
In conclusion, the obstacles blocking the advancement of scientific research in Yemen breed disappointment among all creative people in Yemen. Likewise, allocating a fixed budget for scientific research should be among the priorities of the government if it is earnestly seeking to build the proper foundation for future scientific research. The financial support for scientific research is the key obstacle preventing researchers from going ahead with their work. Thus, the government must tackle this issue efficiently through providing universities with sufficient funds for research. Similarly, coordination among the different entities involved in scientific research has to be strengthened in ways that save resources and enhance capabilities. And finally, the removal of the obstacles impeding scientific research needs a strong political will, rather than the formulation of pointless policies.