Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Friday, January 17th, 2020

The Challenges of Research Culture in Afghanistan


The Challenges of Research Culture  in Afghanistan

As a consequence of long conflicts in Afghanistan, the research and academic activities are faced many quantative and qualitative challenges. During the domestic war, so many academic centers either looted or destroyed. Only in Kabul city, nearly two million books were ignited including thousands of professors, thinkers and academic workers left the country for ever.  However, since 2001 there has been created some changes, but the challenges are more than changes when compare to the current needs and demand of time. It is said that Afghanistan produce only 300 hundred books per year while a very ordinary country produces more than 300 thousands books quantatively.
There are several factors why the progress of research and creativeness are very slow in Afghanistan; these factors include economic barrier, social obstacle, cultural reasons, insecurity issue, migration of elites, poverty, psychological problem, poverty of academic resources, lack of necessary training, lack of knowing new languages, lack of group work, lack of good policy making, lack of institutionalization of research culture in the country, inabilities of universities and so on.  As a result, Afghanistan is at the lowest level in term of science production in the world.  Out of all these factors, it seems that lack of required investment on research is more serious issue as it strengthens other factors as well. According to UNESCO, the third world countries allocate the lowest budget for the research and science production activities.
The second big issue is lack of research center approach in academic community.  For example, there is less research oriented method or problem solving method in Afghan universities; instead, they use only timeworn educational method. Therefore, they produce only job seekers while our country has already enough job seekers. The country needs to more job creators and problems solvers so as to solve the problems, not add to the current problems. In the other word, the success of all development activities including industries, agriculture, services and so on depends on the expansion of research activities. Hence, research is one of the most important factors that ensure sustainable development in every country.
Today, science is one of the main factors and indicators of the progress and excellence of every society, but the level of science is measured on the basis of science production, science consumption and also easy access to reliable scientific resources. The type and level of research activity is one of the main indicators of development.Therefore, the social successes and development of research in any society requires a research-oriented approach in that society. In a research-oriented approach, the findings of previous research are used to improve the status quo.  Hence, the first step in laying groundwork for science production and moving towards social and political development is to institutionalize research in higher educational settings.
The next serious issue is lack of realistic culture for performing research work in the country. Thousands of books and articles are published across the country while most of them express only philosophical and idealistic ideas. We need to set our priorities on the basis of objective requirements of the country as our people severely suffer from social, economic and political problems. Today, the scientists including physicians, physicists, engineers, economists and politicians think more practically than the classic era. They pose specific question and then try to objectively experiment and then provide a practical solution for the problem. The philosophical ideas should be left for philosophers, and the jobs of scientific workers are to provide objective solutions to the current issues.
One of the main features of idealistic culture is absolutism; in such a culture people think things are whether black or white, good or bad and so always choose to have an inflexible stance. Critique is considered as an aggressive behavior. Without choosing a relative approach, no one can produce science required for today’s human life. Many of today’s technologies and social scientific achievement have not been produced over a night. These are all the result of mistakes, experiments and over all relative thinking’s which gradually advanced.  It should be notified that most of our social and political problems have originated from this dogmatic mentality.   For example, one of the ideological principle of Taliban was that everything is Haram or illegal unless proves its legality through religious resources. Based on this principle, they ignored every new or modern phenomenon to use. That’s why; they destroyed many modern facilities such as cassettes, satellite dish, computer, English books and so on when they were in power.
So, the absolutism is not only destructive in scientific activities, but also in social and political arena. The social and political positions can be compared to steering of a car and if it is shaped on the basis of absolutism it will be very dangerous for the whole society. According to Taliban ideology, they absolutely believe in obedience of their religious leader; for this reason, whatever he ordered they had no right to deny or ask any questions. As we know that no one had seen the Taliban leader, but his followers blindly performed his orders throughout the country. With blocking their wisdom, they have not only created a lot of tragedies with killing thousands of innocent children and women but their superego have not awakened yet!
Overall, we must remove any word which smells absolutisms such as absolutely, certainly and definitely from our research culture and social life. Instead, we need to use words which invite towards thinking and inquiries such as probably, maybe and I don’t know. Unfortunately, everyone seems expert in Afghanistan as never use “I don’t know”.

Mohammad Zahir Akbari is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at mohammadzahirakbari@gmail.com

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