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A 13th International Public Communication of Science and Technology (13ª Conferência Internacional de Comunicação Pública da Ciência e Tecnologia) convida participantes e internautas para uma cobertura colaborativa do evento, que ocorre de 5 e 8 de maio em Salvador.

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The challenges for scientific development in the African continent

21 de Maio de 2014, 11:43 , por Giselle Soares - | Ninguém está seguindo este artigo ainda.
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Giselle Soares

In the 1980’s, when the Lagos Plan of Action was established, all the African countries committed to a baseline target of spending 1% of their GDP on scientific research. Today, more than 30 years after that agreement, only five African countries have met the target: Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Mauritius and Rwanda, which is the only country that not only met, but exceeded the target. Today Rwanda spends about 3% of the GDP on scientific research. The data were provided by Elizabeth Rasekoala, the founder and executive director of the African-Caribbean Network for Science & Technology (ACNST), an NGO working to advance human capital development, race and gender equality, and social inclusion in the scientific enterprise, in the African Diaspora and on the African continent. Rasekoala was one of the speakers of the 13th International Public Communication of Science and Technology Conference (PCST) that was held on May 5-8 in Salvador, Bahia (Brazil). 

The percentage established in the Lagos Plan of Action is equivalent to what Brazil is currently investing in science, technology and innovation, about 1% of the GDP. Meanwhile, in the members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the average investment is 2.3% of GDP.

According to Rasekoala, the main challenges for scientific development in Africa are lack of leadership and political engagement, limited funding for science and for research – most of which mainly comes from external bodies-, the profound disconnection between the scientific research undertaken on the continent and the reality of ordinary’s people’s lives, and the limited human capital. “The focus of the limited scientific research undertaken in Africa is totally disconnected from the challenging realities of ordinary people's lives. Science is still practiced by and for a very small elite”, laments the researcher. She also emphasizes the “brain drain” on the continent: “People get their qualifications, they get their PhD’s and they go overseas because there is no opportunity here. We keep going around this vicious cycle the whole time”, she explains. 

Parents and their children participating in family science workshops - here using the innovative, inclusive and empowering curriculum enrichment resource materials produced by the ACNST, to further their understanding of basic science concepts and expand their knowledge and understanding of the global contributions of people of African heritage to the advancement of science & technology in the past and present.  Credit: ACNST

Parents and their children participating in family science workshops - here using the innovative, inclusive and empowering curriculum enrichment resource materials produced by the ACNST, to further their understanding of basic science concepts and expand their knowledge and understanding of the global contributions of people of African heritage to the advancement of science & technology in the past and present.Credit: ACNST

Furthermore, Rasekoala highlights the need to stimulate public debate of science in developing countries, in order to make people understand the link between science and their lives. “How do we get women to understand the link between vaccination and childhood diseases, like polio, measles, etc., and the direct impact on infant mortality rates?, she asks. “We don’t look at our own challenging realities, and we do not strive for the conceptualization and implementation of the innovative approaches which would deliver sustainable, empowering and inclusive solutions to these development paradigms”, says the founder of the ACNST.