Saturday, December 13, 2008

Poor Performance Of Bangladeshi Research Organizations: Where Are The Problems?

Frequently we read news that Non Resident Bangladeshi scientists have done this or that excellent research in this or that field or have won prize for his invention or discovery. Though no statistics can be provided but those who are active in different internet based groups of Bangladeshi will agree that there is hardly any world class laboratory where Bangladeshi scientists are not working. Not only that every year increasing number of Bangladeshi science graduates going to the scientifically advanced and proficient countries including USA,UK, Japan, Singapore , Canada, Norway, Korea for PhD or postdoctoral research. At least from this increasing number, we can guess that performance of Bangladeshi science graduates in international standard is satisfactory. This increasing trend indicates high ability of research of Bangladeshi science graduates.

If this is the case, then why the performance of our national research organizations is not at the satisfactory level? Where are the problems?

We need to analyse and find out the reasons for poor performance and take measures accordingly.

Before that we need to know what is performance or what are the factors determining performance. Otherwise we will not be able to find real cause of such poor performance.


The equation for performance is , Performance = ability X motivation.

From the equation we see that the two factors are equality important for performance. Decrease or fall in anyone affects performance and the other factor. If ability is poor or ability can not be utilized, motivation decreases. If motivation is not enough, ability can not be utilized properly. In both the cases, performance decreases. So recruiting able researcher is not enough, keeping them motivated is equally important.

Now come to the point. Where are the problems in Bangladeshi research organisations, in the ability or motivation of the researchers ? Is it that science graduates working in the Bangladeshi laboratories are not able? Or can not utilize their ability? Or not motivated enough to utilize their ability? Answers of these three questions are critical for improvement of performance of Bangladeshi research organizations.

To get answer of the first question, we need to keep in mind that to join in national research organizations one must have at least three first class results in their four degrees/certificates. A large number of very brilliant graduates also join in these organizations. On the other hand, graduates with very good results, good results and below average (with two second class) results go abroad for higher study and then join in research jobs. So we can not say that the average ability of the researchers in national research organizations is poor than the average ability of NRB scientists. So dearth in ability of scientists in Bangladesh is not the cause of poor performance of our national research organizations.

Then is inability to utilize their ability the cause of poor performance? Or lack of motivation to utilize ability or improve ability?

Yes, these are the cause of poor performance of our national research organizations. Then comes the question, why they are not able to utilize their ability or not motivated enough to utilize and improve ability?

What are the specific reasons for which they can not utilize their ability? Lengthy and faulty procurement process for which they don’t know whether they will get the instruments and equipments they are ordering or if yes, and then do not know when. Lengthy and faulty procurement process for which they can not buy whenever and whatever chemicals and reagents they need? Faulty procurement for which any one can get tender for supplying instruments and equipments in these organizations though they don’t have service engineer for installation, giving training on operation and post sale service? One example can be given from the experience of the author. A multifunctional microscope came to one laboratory of the largest research organization of the country at the end of 2006. But those who were working in the lab since august 2003, didn’t know who ordered it and for what purpose. The person who came to handover the microscope didn’t know how to operate it and could not train the users. Similarly, at the beginning of financial year, each laboratory has to give requisition of equipment, instruments and reagents and chemicals as per the allocated fund. People usually give requisition so that all of the allocated fund will be used whether they require all these things or not. They do because if a laboratory can not spend all the money, next time budget of the laboratory will be reduced. If such is the procurement process, how come researchers use their full ability?

Is there any measure to keep the researchers motivated? Neither sticks nor carrot. If some one do excel in his work, no reward. If some one becomes too lethargic, no sticks to wake him up. Such lethargic person gets sympathy during promotion due to seniority. No quality checking of research. Paper for Publication can be sent without sending it through proper channel though using the name of the organization.

Are these all for poor performance of our research organizations? Certainly not.

Disrupted power supply is another reason of poor performance of these organizations. During summer, electricity supply is so disrupted that it is difficult to carry out any experiment for two hours continuously. This problem should be brought to the notice of minister or high official of the ministry. But interesting thing is done during the visit of the ministers or high officials. It is done not to bring the problem to the notice, rather to hide the problem. The Administration of the organization request the local distributor of electricity to keep supply of power at least for the time of the visit of the VIP. They never contact with them other time for constant power supply in the organization. This is the authors experience in his research organization.

Are All reasons for poor performance discussed? No, one major cause is yet to be mentioned. What’s that ? Every body knows it. So even without mentioning it , question can be asked . How much of our research fund is utilized and how much is wasted? Can we utilize 25% of our resources? If the fund is doubled but the management is as inefficient as it is now, what will be consequence of increasing fund? Wastage of money or improvement in research? If fund increases from 100tk to 200tk but its utilization efficiency is still 25%( author’s assumption is that the fund utilization efficiency of Bangladeshi research organization is 25%, in no way it is more than 35%), 50 TK will be utilized and wastage will be 150tk. But even if funding is 100TK, but efficiency is increased to above 50 %, more than 50 TK will be utilized. If efficiency is 75%, then?
So before increasing fund, making the management process efficient to get maximum output of input (Input) more important.
What should be done to create wave in the stagnant pond of Bangladeshi research organizations will be discussed later.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Comments by: Monir Uddin Ahmed on NIB on 9/30/2006

Comments by: Monir Uddin Ahmed , Scientific officer (Microbiologist, ) on 9/30/2006
Name: Monir Uddin Ahmed , Scientific officer (Microbiologist, )
Affiliation : Institute of Food and Radiation Biology, Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission

Would you like National Institute of Biotechnology (NIB) to be like existing research Institutes? NO

If 'No', would you like partnership between NIB and BRAC/NGO capable of providing high salary for hiring highly to qualified expatriate scientists?: No

How do you like the idea of "brain Circulation" and "Brain Gain"? Add your own if there is any.

Brain circulation and brain Gain may be unique and innovative idea but impractical and unconvincing. It will be very difficult to convince the bureaucrats and policy makers (politicians) for high salary scale and NGO management for NIB. Rather “ Brain Retention “, that is, retaining those who join NIB, is more practical and implementable. This can be achieved with the present salary scale with modern recruitment system, motivational promotion policy, and work worthy procurement procedure.

How do you like the idea of creating postdoctoral positions in NIB and universities? Elaborate.

Very good ideas but what’s about doctoral student?

How about Creation of "Centers of Excellence" for conducting internationally competitive molecular biosciences research to benfit the region? Elaborate.

Who can say against it?

Do you think Development of new drugs is a health priority? Explain if your answer is yes.
Indigenous drug development will help reduce price of drugs. For this the example of Brazil, Cuba, India, Egypt, and china can be followed.More can be learned from “ Conclusion: promoting biotechnological innovation in developing countries” By Halla Thoresteindotti, Uyen Quach, Abdullah S. Daar And Per A Singer from www.nature.com/naturebiotechnology

What is your opinion about Intellectual Property Development & Protection? Add your own if there is any.

Very necessary to protect our resources and innovation and to keep researchers motivated by ensuring financial gain for person and organization.

What is your opinion about for creating biosafety and toxicological studies?
Go ahead if you have scope and facilities


What about supporting the idea for Bangldesh to apply for establishing a "Millennium Institute" under the umbrella of Third World Academy of Sciences" to do molecular biology research?

Who can give any point against it?

Add any other relevant Comments in this column.

To make NIB different from the existing research institute, “Management of manpower, time and money of NIB ” must be different, improved and efficient. To do so, we must find out a visionary full time head of NIB for, at least, the first five years who will be a leader, not BOSS. He must have capabilities to obtain resources from local, regional, national and international granting bodies in addition to the backbone financing from the government. Recruitment must be done by the hand of a human resource specialist. Procurement policy must be cost effective and time saving. Promotion policy must be motivating, not make the scientists lethargic which is occurring in other organizations.

NIB must develop three core complementary activities:

1. Strategic basic research
2. Active technology transfer policy
3. latest scientific information generation for general public and policy makers to make them feel that NIB is doing something for the nation and it deserves funding.

From the proposal of high salary by NGO, it seems that some people have misperception(probably as they have not worked in these organizations) that other research organizations in Bangladesh could not meet our expectation due to low salary. Low salary may have its part in it but not the major cause. The real culprit is the promotion policy and procurement procedure and recruitment system. we should find out very meticulously why other organisations failed to meet the expectation with help of those who worked in these organisations and then set policy for NIB

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

GNOBB and YoungBB can make it happen‏

GNOBB and YoungBB can make it happen‏
From: monir uddin ahmed (muahmed1977@hotmail.com)
Sent: Sun 10/05/08 9:56 PM
To: aislam24@yahoo.com
Cc: abidur@iwate-u.ac.jp; rabidur@yahoo.com; clingb@gmail.com



Dear Sir,

I think you will not disagree with me that unless and until science and technology is a national issue, issue in national election, there is little or no chance for the development of scientific research in Bangladesh.

And I think GNOBB and YoungBB can make science and technology an important issue in the upcoming national election.



For this, four things need to be done. Firstly, GNOOB gives a statement signed by all 328 or majority members and if possible including others. Statement from a large number of scientists like 328 will be a rare event in the history of Bangladesh and will draw attention of all. This statement needs to be published in all national dailies. The statement should have two messages. One for the voters and another for the political parties. The voter will be asked to take into consideration what the party or alliance has said in their manifesto about science and technology while voting. Message for the political parties should be such that scientists will campaign for the party or alliance which will give the most importance and doable reform proposal in their electional manifesto.

If such a statement is published in all national dailies before the political parties publish their manifesto, then they must think to give science and technology due importance in the manifesto.

However, such statement will not be enough. Three more things need to be done to make the statement most effective.

One online petition towards voters, to vote for science friendly parties or alliance. poster which will also ask to vote for science friendly parties or alliance. YoungBB can do such postering in the universities. I think YoungBB has member in all universities and they will do such non partisan postering enthusiastically. If you decide to so, I will be happy to provide financial support with five thousand taka.

Another thing that YoungBB can do is to arrange a question answer session of all the science secretary of the political parties. The question answer session can be like that of BBC sanglab. The science editor of the national dailies must be invited in the session along with eminent scientists. If electronic media can be convinced to air such program, then it will be great.


I think if these things can be done, it will bring noticeable change, if not , then a begining of change , in the sector of science in Bangladesh. And it seems to me that GNOBB and YoungBB jointly can make all these happen under your leadership. Hence I am sharing my thought with you.

May Allah help us to bring such changes in the science and technology research in Bangladesh.



With best regards and wishes

Monir Uddin Ahmed

MS Student ( Biotechnology ),

Student Representative (International) ,

Academic Board ,Swinburne University of Technology

Melbourne, Australia.

Scientific Officer

Institute of Food and Radiation Biology

Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission


Mobile: +61 431091781, phone:+61-3-94846135

http://scitechinbd.blogspot.com/

My Understanding of Science:
Science is the endless pursuit of firstly exploration of the processes, procedures and mechanisms of Allah's creation and then to copy or replicate them as much as possible for the betterment of the Mankind.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Push Science and technology in the mind of the influential people, policy makers of our country

On Saturday, 11 October, 2008 Mr. Motiur Rahman, Editor of the Prothoma-alo has written a commentary.

At the end of the commentary, he has expected that this time the manifestos of our political parties will not be as usual. " আমরা আশা করব, রাজৈনিতক দলগুলোর এবারের নির্বাচনী ইশেতহার গতানুগতিক হবে না৷ রাজৈনিতক ও অর্থনৈতিক, শিক্ষা, স্বাস্হ্য, কর্মসংস্থানসহ জরুরী জাতীয় সমস্যা সমাধানের আশু ও সুদূর প্রসারী লক্ষ্যের পরিকল্পনা থাকতে হবে ।"
http://www.prothom-alo.com/index.news.details.php?nid=MTkyODM=

The next day, the same daily made the leading news of Khaleda zia’s briefing to the Krisok dal leaders about election preparation of BNP. In her briefing She said: " আমরা নির্বাচন মূখী দল ।আমরা নির্বাচনে অংশগ্রহণ করতে চাই ।এজন্য নির্বাচন নিয়ে বিএনপির ভবিষ্যৎ পরিকল্পনা প্রণয়নের দায়িত্ব ভাগ করে দেয়া হয়েছে । যে কাজ গুলো করা দরকার, সে গুলো করার জন্য ইতিমধ্যেই আমরা বিভিন্ন ব্যক্তিকে দায়িত্ব দিয়েছি।ইতিমধ্যে আমরা টাস্কফোর্সের মত কতগুলো কমিটি গঠন করে দিয়েছি।তারা শিক্ষা,কৃষি,শিল্পসহ বিভিন্ন খাতের উন্নয়নে সুপারিশ প্রণয়ন করবে । " http://www.prothom-alo.com/archive/news_details_home.php?dt=2008-10-12&issue_id=1069&nid=MTkzMDU=

None of the above influential persons of our country has mentioned about scientific research and technology development. But who does not know that for progress of any country at a satisfactory pace, scientific research and technology development is of crucial importance .

Should not we, scientists, push Science and technology in the mind of the influential people, policy makers of our country?

Can not we send an email, make a phone call to these people or directly talk to them if they are within our reach for the sake of science and technology, for the sake of the country?

Monday, June 30, 2008

Decreasing Enrollment In Science Group at SSC And HSC Level: Should We Worry?

Would you disbelieve me if I don’t give any reference and statistics but say that in our colleges there are not enough seats to accommodate all the SSC students who pass from science group? Would you disbelieve me if………….. there are not enough seats in our universities to accommodate all the HSC students who pass from science group? Would you………………there are not enough jobs in our research organizations and industries to give jobs to a large share of science graduates who finish their studies in universities , let alone to all? . Would you …………….these jobs are not attractive enough to attract meritorious science graduates?

I am confident, none will disbelieve me. As my statements are generally accepted, does not need any statistics or reference, then should we really worry seeing the deceasing enrollment in science group at SSC and HSC level?
No. because if the enrollment in science decease at the present rate there will be no shortage of science graduates in the next 20 years to fill in the positions in our research organizations and industries.

But should we be relaxed? If not, than what should we worry about? If we are really worried or really want to worry, then we should worry about poor performance of our research organizations, there poor attraction to our meritorious science graduates. We should worry why science and technology is not a national issue? We should worry that Bangladesh Academy of Sciences (BAS) is not a well known organization to our science graduates. We should worry about why Dr. Shamsher Ali is well known to the nation but not the president of BAS to the science graduates. We should …………..why the website of BAS (www.basbd.org ) is not updated. We should worry why Dr. Zafar Iqbal frequently write political column, but hardly or never write science column or criticize the governments’, irrespective of party in power, policy and neglect to science and technology . We should worry why our scientific professional organizations are not critical of governments neglect to science and technology. We should worry why our newspapers have “extension of literature page” in the name of science page and not a single newspaper has prominent scientist as editor of the science page.
Yes, we should really worry as there is no talk of reform, let alone reform, in the science and technology even during the reformist caretaker government?

If we are really worried for what we should be worried, and Want to be relaxed we should make our research organization improve their performance so that jobs in these organizations become attractive and prestigious.Then it will pull students in science group at SSC and HSC level.We should not push students in science group at SSC and HSC level.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

KAUST deserves attention of Bangladeshi Researchers and Research Institutes

Bangladesh belongs to the list of scientifically lagging countries. One of the major obstacles in scientific research in Bangladesh is lack of fund. Establishing collaborative relation with King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) can be source of fund for some Bangladeshi researcher and research institutes. Because it is funding researchers and research institutes through its global research partnership program.

King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) is being built in Saudi Arabia as an international, graduate-level research university dedicated to inspiring a new age of scientific achievement in the Kingdom that will also benefit the region and the world. . The University is set to open in September 2009
KAUST will be:
• supported by a multi-billion dollar endowment
• governed by an independent, self-perpetuating Board of Trustees
• merit-based and open to men and women from around the world

As a graduate-research University, KAUST's fundamental organizing unit will be, not schools or departments, but interdisciplinary Research Institutes.
1. Resources, Energy and Environment;
2. Biosciences and Bioengineering;
3. Materials Science and Engineering;
4. Applied Mathematics and Computational Science.
Within each Research Institute there will be multi-investigator, problem-oriented, often industry-collaborative Research Centers.

KAUST Will be a fully a research University. Unlike many primarily undergraduate universities, KAUST will not have a two-tier faculty. All faculty will be of the highest caliber and able to formulate value-added research projects; or will have unique background experience – as teachers or in private industry – that supports KAUST's mission as a 21st century University.

The driving factor of KAUST's research agenda is to accelerate scientific discovery and technological innovation. The corresponding strategy in terms of organizational development involves flexible funding and outreach to potential partner institutions, and targeted investments in physical and intellectual infrastructure to stimulate collaboration with other research universities and the private sector.

Global Research Partnership will provide three major streams of funding:
• Centers and Centers-in-Development — KAUST will provide five-year grant support to university-based, multi-investigator centers, with industry participation possible. In addition, three-year awards for KAUST Centers-in-Development will be available for smaller groups seeking to assemble the resources for a KAUST Center.
• KAUST Investigators — In March 2008, KAUST awarded the first round of GRP Investigator grants to twelve highly accomplished scientists and engineers. KAUST is providing five-year individual grants to this group to investigate a wide range of research topics, including water desalination, renewable and sustainable next-generation energy sources, genomics of salt-tolerant plants, durable and environmentally friendly construction materials, hydrocarbon utility, low-cost solar cell efficiency, and disease immunization.
• KAUST Research Fellows — KAUST will provide three-year support to exceptional post-doctoral researchers.

The financial support will be as follows:
• Centers and Centers-in-Development – Multi-investigator; may involve more than one university; often with private-sector participation. Center awards will provide up to $5 million per year for five years; and the Center-in-Development program will provide up to $1.5 million per year for three years.
• Investigators – Individual scientists or engineers leading a laboratory. Investigator awards will provide up to $2 million per year for five years.
• Research Fellows – Post-doctoral researchers. Research Fellow awards will provide $100,000 in salary, benefits and research support per year for three years.

According to the website, The Global Research Partnership will grow in size and scope as the University opens its doors, allowing KAUST to leverage the relationships in its externally funded network and to grow its own high-quality research activity on the campus. So there is scope for Bangladeshi Research researcher and Institutes to establish partnership with it.

Under the Partnership Scientists' will work at their home institutions .Grant will be given based on Quality of the proposed research project, it’s relevance to KAUST's research objectives and Contribution of the research activity to the development of KAUST and the global research and education enterprise.

Initial Research Focus Areas include
• Carbon capture and hydrogen-rich fuels
• Advanced concepts in desalination and water supply
• Biotechnology for food, nutrition, public health, biodiversity and industrial processes
• Catalysis and polymer chemistry
• Applied mathematics and computational science
• Scientific and engineering computing (e.g. computational chemistry)

So Bangladeshi research institute such as Centre fro Excellence, Energy centre of Dhaka University, BUET and National Institute of Biotechnology should focus on establishing collaborative relation with KAUST.

It deserves mentioning here that KAUST will support male and female researchers equally. Interested person can get more Information at www.kaust.edu.sa .
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