Sat, 27 Aug 1994

Wardiman wants more useful research projects

JAKARTA (JP): Minister of Education and Culture Wardiman Djojonegoro said most research projects conducted by universities in Indonesia have been largely inapplicable and are irrelevant to the country's development problems.

Universities should concentrate more on applied sciences because Indonesia needs fast and pragmatic solutions to its various problems, Wardiman said on Thursday.

"If research institutions in Indonesia choose the applied scientific approach over basic sciences, this should not be construed as a setback," he said after inaugurating the Graduate Studies Research Council (MPPT) at his office.

Wardiman said Indonesia cannot afford to carry out research in basic sciences because funding for these types of research were too large, whereas applied science "can be used according to our needs."

"Don't look down upon applied science, because much research in this field requires a high level of knowledge, sophisticated equipment and high-quality people," he said, citing agricultural biotechnology as an example of an applied science.

The new council recommends the Ministry of Education on research policies best carried out at the graduate and post- graduate levels, based on the "link and match" approach.

Wardiman deplored the continuing low level of research activity at most universities in Indonesia which he blamed on the lack of "research culture" as well as funding and equipment.

As of last year, Indonesian post-graduate students only comprised 0.5 percent of the total number of graduate students.

This is very low compared to Thailand (2.4 percent), Brazil (2.7), China (3.2), Mexico (3.3) and Korea (5.7). Currently 10,000 students in Indonesia are completing their master's degrees and 1,000 others their doctoral work.

The number of Indonesian scientists who contribute to international publications is also low in both quality and quantity, amounting to only a third of the number from Thailand and Kenya, one fourth of Nigerians, a 10th of Koreans and one 50th of the total in China.

MPPT, chaired by Dr. Bambang Soehendro, comprises seven permanent commissions for science, engineering, agriculture, health, social sciences, humanitarian sciences and education.

Vice-chairperson Dr. Jajah Koswara said the council has obtained a $60 million loan from the World Bank's University Research for Graduate Education (URGE) project.

A total of $97 million will be disseminated in the next five years, Jajah said. "MPPT will likely seek its own funds in the future... we will work and provide input to both the government and the private sector, who are both involved with us through the link and match system." (pwn)