“We will try to integrate as much as possible the research component into higher education” - PM attends Annual Meeting of NAS
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan attended the annual meeting of the National Academy of Sciences of Armenia, which reviewed the results of research and scientific-organizational activities in 2018.
NAS President, Academician Radik Martirosyan presented the most important scientific findings and practical developments of NAS-affiliated organizations. He touched on 2018 within the framework of international cooperation, the preparation of scientific staff and the participation of young scientists in international programs, activation of scientific researches as well as in a number of other areas. The NAS President noted that 2018 marked the 75th anniversary of the Academy, and several scientific events were held throughout the year.
NAS Academician-Secretary, Corresponding Member Hrant Matevosyan reported on scientific-organizational activities in 2018. Then the floor was given to NAS Corresponding Member Pavel Avetisyan, Archeology and Ethnography Institute Director Armen Sergeyev, NAS Corresponding Member, Radiophysics and Electronics Institute Director Arsen Hakhumyan.
Addressing the meeting, Prime Minister Pashinyan noted that the National Academy of Sciences boasts a rich history, which features glorious chapters of Armenian and global science.
“During my international meetings, especially those related to science and scientific activities, I stressed that Armenia surely was the Silicon Valley of the former Soviet Union. And this is not just a restoration of historical memory, but rather the acknowledgement of the great scientific potential we have in Armenia. Why was science so strong and powerful in the Soviet Union? I think because the State and the public knew what they wanted from science, science also knew very well what the State and the society wanted,” the Premier said.
The Head of Government noted that the debate on what the State wants from science, what the science wants from the State, and what they can give each other has been on since the very first day of the Third Republic. Finding the answer to these questions is the key to ensuring sustained scientific development in our country.
“I can say what the State or the Government wants from science. We have stated that we see the Republic of Armenia as a technological country and we hope that science, scientific potential, including the National Academy of Sciences, will serve the political vision in Armenia.
There is much talk about science funding and its mechanisms, and the presumption is that we are short of necessary resources. But I would like to note that during our work in the government, I suggested that we should give up talking about money, because if we start talking about money, we may soon get into a deadlock. We should not talk about how much money we have and how much we are ready to spend, but about what we are trying to achieve, how we imagine it, and whether we can do it.
What steps should we take to cope with this problem? Consequently, I suggest that we get rid of this logic, because the question is not whether there is money or not, but what we want. I think that money will always be found as soon as we clearly formulate our aspirations because the goals are much more important than to sit down and calculate how much money we have at the moment,” Nikol Pashinyan said.
The Prime Minister touched upon a number of issues related to the development of science in Armenia, which should be paid attention. “The first question is how much science is integrated into the system of education, including higher education. All our recent foreign visits were scheduled in a way to allow us to visit European or world’s leading educational institutions. My meetings and contacts led to the conclusion that the modern trends are unequivocally going in the direction that education cannot be imagined without a very strong research base, that is, a scientific component. Unfortunately, our scientific system is somewhat cut off from the university system, that is, we have a substantial lack of research component in our educational system.
Our strategy will be such that we will try as much as possible and most effective research, that is, to integrate the scientific direction into the higher education. In this regard, I want to emphasize that our understanding is as follows: some functions that are traditionally perceived as government functions, should be delegated to the university, the scientific-educational system that will first enable scientists to integrate into the management of the economy and the public life, and the same possibility will create for students not only theoretical knowledge but also the apply theoretical knowledge in practice.
The next important issue that our government puts forward is the following: how much is Armenia’s scientific or scientific-educational system integrated into the process of formulating a strategic perspective in Armenia?
One of our greatest challenges is that the government and the scientific-educational system are operating separately. We have set ourselves a task that the expert potential should be substantially strengthened in Armenia, and this should be done in the following manner: the scientific-educational system should be involved in the process of formulating strategies and policies, which in turn implies that a specific portion of financial flows will have to be funneled towards the scientific-educational system.
The next question is how much our educational system is integrated into the economy. I am happy that the answer to this question or the vector of thought was clearly seen in Archeology and Ethnography Institute Director Pavel Avetisyan’s remarks as he spoke about scientific activity in the field of archeology and ethnography, but in the next sentence he said that this could become an important tool for tourism development.
It is crucial for us to view research and scientific activity from this perspective. It is not just a product that we should appreciate, be proud of it and keep it on shelves. It should be accessible to people. In the 21st century, people have a lot of interest in science and many other fields. Today, the man strives to learn more, and I feel that the next problem is the integration of our scientific-educational system into the economy. By saying so, many speakers have in mind only technical sciences, but I think the aforementioned example showed that not only technical sciences can integrate into the economy and serve or advance specific sectors of the economy.
The next important question is how much our educational system can integrate with the Armed Forces and how much it can promote our national security needs. There is another important point that I would like to emphasize, namely the imperative of our educational system’s self-awareness. It is very important for us to build our strategic future so that we can become more accurate and more comprehensive today as our identity, nationality, society, people, citizen, because self-awareness is the most important precondition for building a future strategy,” Nikol Pashinyan underscored.
The Prime Minister noted that these topics had been discussed with the representatives of the National Academy of Sciences and the Ministry of Education and Science. This is the main vector of the Government’s future activities and the core framework of cooperation with the NAS and the scientific-educational system, in general.
Back to the schemes of science funding, the Head of Government emphasized that fundamental changes should be made in the philosophy of financing because the question is not how much money we have and how fairly we are distributing it.
“The government has a specific program proposal in the field of science, and when these project proposals were being discussed, the amount of funds available for funding was zero, that is, there was no cash money to fund that program. If there are more convincing, more strategic and useful programs, money will come automatically.
I rule out that the Government of Armenia will not find the necessary amount to fund such a convincing program as may prove useful even if in case of failure it could be of service to the country in the long run.
I cannot imagine such a situation in the new Armenia where any program that meets my criteria will not be implemented only because there is no money. Finally, money is also generated through actions, thoughts, ideas, energy and work, and so there is money, or in response to a question, we have to say how much energy we have, how strong our mind and our will is, and how much we are convinced that what we do is worth much more than money. I am convinced that the Republic of Armenia has the necessary scientific, human potential, the necessary mental and moral potential to create such results as are worth more than money. The outcome will result in unlimited amounts of money, because money is not the primary target. The idea is what matters most: the idea has always triumphed, and will be the winner forever,” Nikol Pashinyan concluded.
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