Egypt Independent

CAO: Scientific research in Egypt falls short of global standards

In a recently-issued report, the state-run Central Auditing Organization (CAO) criticized Egyptian universities for their relatively low output of scientific research compared to universities in other countries.

The CAO also chastised Egyptian universities for not being included on recognized lists of the world's top universities.

The CAO report listed the 60 top scientific research papers to be published recently in the Middle East and Africa. The list, which did not include any research from Egypt, included 47 research papers from Israel, seven from South Africa and four from Saudi Arabia.

Despite an annual increase in the number of research papers published in Egypt, these, the report noted, tended to be "modest," especially in the field of natural sciences. Research in information technology, biotechnology, genetic engineering and other areas of modern science, meanwhile, were found to be almost non-existent in Egypt.

According to the CAO report, most research conducted on Egyptian universities pertains to the social sciences and is usually only published in local Arabic-language research journals.

The report went on to criticize officials responsible for education in Egypt, asserting that they were busy with "less important" issues–such as amending public high school and university admission systems–while paying scant attention to issues that might advance the field of scientific research.

The report attributed the decline of Egyptian universities to inadequate funding, noting that only 0.2 percent of total national income was spent on education, three quarters of which was earmarked for paying salaries. The report also blamed the phenomenon on rising enrollment figures, the slow development of curricula and teaching methods, weak libraries and information centers, and a lack of modern scientific reference works.

In addition, the report found that many laboratories in Egyptian universities lacked modern equipment, while faculty members and researchers were often unavailable on a full-time basis. What's more, the report noted that priority was generally given to the quantity, rather than quality, of research.

The report concluded by asserting that the low level of scientific research in Egypt was not due to a lack of human resources, since Egypt boasts 1128 researchers per million inhabitants, while South Africa has only 938; India 149; Turkey 261, and China 350.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.