Scientist: Egypt must invest in education and scientific research

Egyptian scientist Farouk El-Baz–director of Boston University’s Center for Remote Sensing–believes Egypt must spend more on education and scientific research, much like Japan, Thailand, Singapore, and Korea have done.

Speaking by video conference at the American University in Cairo (AUC) downtown campus, El-Baz delivered his statements in the lead up to the Cairo International Festival of Science–organized by Cairo University, AUC and the Cairo Opera House–which begins in April.

In a subsequent press conference, El-Baz, a former participant in NASA’s Apollo program, expressed concern that Egypt remains isolated from the international scientific community due to its inadequate education system. Educational standards at all schooling levels have declined in the past 40 years, according to El-Baz.

El-Baz urged Egypt to make educational improvement a top priority over the next decade, stressing that high education standards are the key to development.

The main purpose of the festival, El-Baz said, is to encourage young Egyptian scientists to share their work, adding that by promoting scientific research Egyptian scientists abroad will want to return to their country.

"Scientific and technological improvements in all fields are necessary to ensure that Egyptian citizens receive good services and can cope with their daily problems," said El-Baz. "This will be very important for the coming generation."

The festival also aims to highlight Egyptian contributions to scientific and technological research, especially in Europe and the United States, in order to underscore "how much Egyptians value science," he said.

El-Baz pointed out that in places like the United States, such festivals provide students with an important opportunity to think and innovate, adding that annual scientific festivals are spreading in Arab countries, such as the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. He added that most festivals he has attended include student competitions with final prizes being awarded to the best projects, and he hoped that Egypt can provide similar incentives to encourage its young minds.

The festival is supported by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and will include participants from various universities, including Harvard and Maryland.

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