Varsities urged to conduct research

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A participant reacts at a question at the workshop on Tuesday. (Photos by T. Kisambira)

 Public and private higher learning institutions should develop the culture of carrying out research in science and technology as enabler for development and transformation.

Dr Marie Christine Gasingirwa, the director general of Science, Technology and Research at the Ministry of Education, made the comments during a validation workshop to deliberate on the survey findings and chart ways for future research that impacts national development.

The main objective of the study was to measure the indicators which can help to formulate evidence-based policies regarding Research and Experimental Development (R&D) in various sectors driving the national economy, among others.

It was carried out in 2013-2014 with findings released last year.

During the reference year 2013/2014, the biggest contribution of GDP to experimental development activities was Rwf8, 7billion, which corresponds to 0.2 per cent of the national GDP, according to the study.

The research was carried out nationwide in foursectors, namely government sector, higher education sector, private non-profit sector, and business enterprise sector.

Rwanda subscribes to the African Science, Technology and Innovation Indicators (ASTII) initiative which consolidated a plan of action adopted in 2005 by African Ministerial Council on Science and technology as the framework to respond to social-economic challenges the continent is facing.

The study revealed that very few people carry out research while more contribution is needed for research to play a core role in socio-economic development.

According to Gasingirwa, nations should be spending at least 1 per cent of their Gross Domestic Products (GDP) on research but most of the countries do not do so.

Rwanda spends 0.2 per cent of its GDP on research in three sectors; Uganda spends 0.5 per cent, Burundi 0.1 per cent and South Africa 0.87 per cent, according to official figures.

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Dr Marie Christine Gasingirwa, the director general of Science, Technology and Research at the ministry of Education speaks at the workshop on Tuesday. 

The survey shows that in public institutions only 132 staffers do research out of 162,934 people working in the sector.

In high learning institutions, both public and private, 325 out of 6818 people carry out research.

Out of over 22,000 people from local and international NGOs, only 264 do research, according to the study.

Charles Ndagije, a researcher and a university lecturer, said there is need for researchers to put in more efforts to ensure that more impactful research is carried out.

He also noted that the issue of funding might affect the quality of research and also discourage researchers.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw