Proposed National Science and Technology Policy of Sri Lanka
In the increasingly competitive global economy, Science and Technology have become strategically more important in national development. The rapid advancements and the pervasive role of S & T in the global economy necessitate the nation to build up and enhance its capability in Science and Technology to take advantage of potential wealth creating opportunities. In view of the above, a thrust should be made to harness S & T as key drivers in raising the national capacity to acquire and utilize knowledge in Science and Technology to foster innovations.
Successive governments in Sri Lanka have been involved in developing a consistent Science and Technology policy. Comprehensive statements were drawn up by a Presidential Task Force in early 1990’s, the Natural Resources Energy and Science Authority (NARESA) in 1995, and the National Science & Technology Commission (NASTEC) in 2002 and thereafter. The present document is a distillation of the foregoing policy statements and of the new thinking that has occurred in response to the rapid advances and changes in global Science and Technology, as well as the social, political and economical developments in Sri Lanka.
The proposed National Science and Technology Policy elements and strategies are expected to be the basis for the attainment of a scientifically and technologically advanced society and for a holistic approach to strengthen and develop Science and Technology. The policy goals also emphasize on capacity building and strengthening of Science and Technology through intensification of advancement and dissemination as well as the application of knowledge and technologies in particular, the leading–edge technologies.
These policy elements constitute an overarching statement that provides a framework for more specific policies and implementation plans. They have been designed keeping in mind the social and material well being of the people of the country, protection of the environment and the need for sustainable growth and development. It is envisaged that the National Science and Technology Policy when adopted, will provide a consistent, long-term framework for growth and development in Science and Technology of the country, leading to the achievement of the status of a developed nation in the foreseeable future.
- Providing equal and adequate opportunities for all to acquire a basic education in science and its practical applications
- Encouraging a questioning mind and the application of scientific methodologies in every day life for efficiency and productivity
- Cultivating among all Sri Lankans, an appreciation of the values and ethics of science and technology and related research, leading to entrepreneurship as an essential aspect of modern society
- Promoting public awareness of S & T
- Improving the working and living conditions of the scientists and technologists
- Providing incentives for research and innovation that would help to retain recognized high calibre scientists and technologists in Sri Lanka and attract the Sri Lankan expatriate scientists to contribute to national development
- Training scientists and technologists in advanced technologies and knowledge management to support local industries and other needs of the country
- Establishing an Inter-Ministerial Task Force chaired by the President
- Including scientists and technologists in the formulation of policies and plans, and decision-making at the highest levels
- Integrating scientific and technological planning into the ministerial, provincial and national level plans of the country
- Involving scientists and technologists in monitoring and reviewing strategies, legislation, and institutional framework for science and technology in all relevant sectors
- Progressively increasing the public and private sector investment in science and technology (up to 1.5 % of GDP, by the year 2016)
- Developing and strengthening the existing S & T institutions and universities to generate high quality research and train scientists
- Establishing where appropriate, new centres of science and technology in the high priority areas where advanced international level research facilities are available
- Improving the autonomy and flexibility of science and technology institutions
- Promoting partnerships among industries, research institutes and universities for knowledge generation through research
- Promoting and expanding public-private partnerships in science and technology activities and encouraging investment in R & D
- Encouraging multi-disciplinary development research
- Up- scaling of research based new processes and technologies to pilot and commercial scales with state support
- Encouraging industries and R & D institutions to give greater emphasis to technology transfer and technology adaptation
- Development of technologies suitable for transferring to small and medium enterprises, particularly enterprises at the village level through collaboration between R & D institutions and the SME sector
- Implementing effective, science based, transparent monitoring and reviewing systems for S & T institutions and taking corrective steps to ensure quality
- Ensuring the effectiveness of activities of the institutions mandated to maintain international quality standards of institutions, services and management systems such as ISO 9001, ISO 14000, ISO 22000 etc. and certification of product quality through their own certification schemes with the application of appropriate S & T
- Ensuring the effectiveness of activities of the relevant accrediting bodies for laboratory accreditation against international standards such as ISO 17025 etc.
- Ensuring the effectiveness of accreditation activities for conformity assessment in supporting Quality Assurance
- Promoting the acquisition, transfer, and development of clean technologies in industry through application of S & T
- Strengthening and implementing laws and regulations to protect the environment
- Formulating transparent policies governing the use of natural resources such as soil and water to meet the long- term needs of the country
- Establishment of monitoring and evaluation systems for the successful implementation of the above.
- Establishing memoranda of understanding for cooperation in S & T activities with other nations, international organizations, academic, and R & D institutions, and relevant scientific and technical industries.
- Promoting international cooperation in S & T activities, including initiation and conduct of joint programmes of study and R & D, with a view to building technological capacity
- Developing joint ventures involving S & T, for socio-economic development
- Establishing exchange programmes for senior scientists and technologists
- Providing opportunities for young scientists and technologists to acquire knowledge in S & T as practiced in other countries
- Providing the necessary funding, infrastructure, and training support
- Encouraging joint venture partnerships to develop relevant technologies for establishment of industries
- Promoting industries based on local resources ensuring value addition
- Establishing a database of available S & T based indigenous knowledge and practices
- Researching into the acceptability of the available indigenous knowledge, and further development of such knowledge and technologies while ensuring Intellectual Property Rights
- Where appropriate, encouraging the development and practice of indigenous knowledge
- Promoting research related to sustainable use of biodiversity of the country
- Making people aware of the general and scientific principles and underlying causes of natural and man made hazards
- Disseminating information regarding preliminary indications of hazardous occurrences, and their harmful effects
- Using S & T based methodologies to identify and map hazard-prone areas, and to develop early warning systems and adaptive measures
- Developing local and national emergency plans to respond to natural disasters, including evacuation plans, provision of food, and ensuring the health of the affected population
- Using science and technology inputs to ensure security in water, food, shelter, energy, healthcare and national defense for the people as well as security from crime and fear
- Fostering bilateral and multi-lateral links with other nations and international organizations, in areas such as defense technologies, and technologies pertaining to control of and defense against chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons
- Building human resources and infrastructure capacity in the above areas by local research and development, international collaboration, and training programmes
- Strengthening and enforcing laws and regulations governing IPR
- Assisting scientists and technologists to patent innovations
- Further developing systems of national recognition and awards for successful researchers and inventors for their inventions
- Developing a system of national recognition and awards for S & T institutions supporting inventions and innovations
- Encouraging the provision of venture capital to individuals and organizations interested in converting inventions into innovations
- Inculcating IPR awareness among scientists and technologists and the general public
- The policy discussion document is excellent. I add below two paragraphs of in my opinion overriding statements that should be an essential preamble to the document please especially as we are a group of scientists involved in this discussion of science policy- for which opportunity we are grateful. These comments are vital if we are to take account of and deal with the real world situation that exists here now and have done in the post independence past. I add in parenthesis at the end of each sentence the sections of the policy document that would be adversely affected or rendered impotent and meaningless if the preamble is ignored. I know these comments do not apply only here- but they need to be made here as well as anywhere else.
- In the present and future scientific age we must recognize that progress depends on meritocracy and not other consideration in relation to all aspects of the function of scientific organizations and scientists (Intro; 1a and c; 2 a,b; 3b,d; 4d; 6a,b; 7b,c,d; 8a,b; 11d; 12a; 13b-e:.
- Corruption. Nepotism ,and racial or other Chauvinism, intolerance or insensitivity are the antithesis of proper scientific and technological development, and can ruin the application and benefits of any policy not only as far as any aim of reaching the less fortunate sections of society but also from the point of view of attaining developed nation status, however excellent such policy might appear to be on paper (Intro; 1a and c; 2a,b; 4a,c,d; 5,d; 7b,c,d; 8a-d; 10e; 11d; 12a-c; 13b-e:.