Alarming drop in numbers involved in research

World average: 8,94.1 per million, SL average: 237.3
By Chandani Kirinde

Statistics compiled by Government have revealed Sri Lanka lags far behind other countries in the field of research; with a severe shortage of researchers in the country due to poor infrastructure facilities to develop the area and only 678 of the 9,000 schools in the country equipped to teach science.

Statistics reveal Sri Lanka has only 237.3 researchers per million while the world average is 8,94.1, the average in developed countries is 3,272.7 while the average in developing countries is 374.3.

The lamentable state of the country in the field of research has been revealed in a report compiled by the Ministry of Technology and Research which has drawn up a “Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy for Sri Lanka.”

There are only 4,600 researchers country-wide, of whom only 2,700 are full time researchers, in research-related jobs in 31 state research institutes, 16 universities and a few private sector industries.
This is far below the national average of other countries in the region.

The report says that if Sri Lanka is to be on par with at least the world average, it needs approximately 18,000 research personnel --four times the present number. A disturbing trend that has been noted is the declining numbers of researchers from approximately 6,000 in 1996 to 4,520 in 2006 which has been a cause for serious concern for the future in the Research and Development capability in our country.

The country’s total expenditure in this field from the GDP is 0.17 percent while in Malaysia it is 0.93%, Singapore 2.36%, Korea 2.99%, India 0.61% and China 1.34%. The report adds the research infrastructure available is also poor and the country does not have a single world class research facility either in the universities or at research institutes.

There is also no dedicated institute for ocean research even though Sri Lanka has seven times more sea area than land area. The Ministry proposes to initially focus on training a minimum of 725 personnel for research degrees over the next five years with initial financing by the consolidated fund.
Training of this number is estimated to cost between Rs. 3- Rs.10 billion.

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