A Braindead Country Called Lebanon
By: Rasha Abouzaki
Published Tuesday, June 26, 2012 http://english.al-akhbar.com/node/8933 The myth of superiority clearly has a grip on the Lebanese. They presume that they are the masters of science, civilization, and progress. But looking beyond this “chauvinist” posture, we find a country barren of any institutions that encourage achievement. The feebleness of Lebanese scientific research could be one of the reasons for Lebanese society’s ignorance of its own characteristics and inability to evaluate its reaction and realities, locally and internationally. In practice, Lebanon does not create scientific minds in both the physical and social sciences. Its academic curricula shun all creative elements. And if a Lebanese manages to distinguish themselves in any way, he or she is picked up by any country in the world, except their own. Not only is Lebanon unable to produce scientific minds, it is always keen to cast them outside its geographic borders on the rare occasion of something like this happening. Once distinguished Lebanese scientists and thinkers are outside the country, you hear officials boast about “Lebanese talent in the Diaspora” followed by “the increase in remittances from expatriates which breathes life into the Lebanese economy...” Then, a round of applause. Research Backwardness
In practice, Lebanon does not create scientific minds in both the physical and social sciences. Its academic curricula shun all creative elements. Lebanon is no different than other Arab countries. One of the most repeated anecdotes is that the total number of books translated into Arabic from the time of Abbasid Caliph Al-Maamun (786-833 AD) until today is around 10,000 books, equivalent to what Spain translates in only one year (this has been refuted by an Al-Akhbar investigation.) This indicator could be the gateway to understanding why Lebanon ignores a fundamental principle of the development of people and countries – scientific research. Studies and articles around the world show that petroleum can no longer be considered a measure of a society’s development or prosperity. Poverty and wealth are no longer measured by what can be extracted from under the earth, but by what can be extracted from the mind. Lebanese University graduate Rania Bou Kheir won the Francophone award for scientific research for the year 2010-2011. She explains that scientific research poses a real economic and social challenge around the world. It is a basic condition for the continuity of universities and their academic standing. Research can change the realities of life in the country, particularly when sophisticated statistical models are used and shaped according to Lebanon’s particular circumstances. It can range from construction to medicine, and the effects of any factor that impacts a particular human situation, such as divorce, murder, theft, and unemployment. In a study on the reality of scientific research in Lebanon, Bou Kheir discovered that the amount of research produced by all governmental and non-governmental institutions combined, since their inception up until 2011, could be considered miniscule. In all its years, the Lebanese University (LU) produced a mere 1,738 studies (published in newspapers, conferences, or books). Private universities, for their part, produced 9,303 published studies. Only 322 studies were published by governmental research centers, 66 by public hospitals, 4,522 by private hospitals, and 67 by private research institutions. The study indicates that 71 percent of all peer reviewed research in Lebanon comes out of 4 of the 19 official universities and research institutions (11,363 studies). A mere 3 hospitals in the country produced 87 percent of medical peer reviewed research. (Peer reviewed research are those that are judged by peers and published in specialized scientific publications. The reviewers are usually experienced researchers who are recognized for their...
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