– Kanatbek Ermekovich, what is the current state of Kyrgyz science in general and the National Academy of Sciences of the Kyrgyz Republic in particular?
Kanatbek Abdrakhmatov: There is nothing to hide here. In recent years, the prestige of the National Academy of Sciences of the Kyrgyz Republic has fallen. So much so that if today, say, ordinary Kyrgyzstan are asked on the street what they think of the Academy of Sciences, the answers will be overwhelmingly negative. They will say that scientists do nothing, that they are useless, but that they earn a living wage.
- What about the size of salaries – is it true?
Kanatbek Abdrakhmatov: Judge for yourself. A young specialist arrives, we hire him for a position, for example, as an engineer. How much do you think he will get?
- I’ll try to guess, depending on the size of the average salary in the country – 15-17 thousand?
Kanatbek Abdrakhmatov: Even, as they say, not hot – seven thousand. A senior researcher receives about 12,000 soms. And my salary is about equal to the salary of the head of the village council. In addition, I am a doctor of sciences, professor, corresponding member of the National Academy of Sciences of the Kyrgyz Republic.
The question of financing characterizes the attitude of the State towards us. In 2023, 83 billion soms were allocated for education in the republic. The Academy of Sciences will only receive 499 million. That sounds like a good number, but believe me, it’s very small.
However, I would like to draw attention to another point. We are talking about the reform that began in Kyrgyzstan, as a result of which our research institutes will be integrated into the higher educational establishments of the republic. In other words, we are “attached” to universities.
We disagree with this. The Constitution says that the Academy, based on the principles of continuity and scientific progress, coordinates the directions in the field of basic and applied sciences. It turns out that the basic law of the land says one thing, but in reality something else is going on.
If you look at the ranking of scientific institutions of the Kyrgyz Republic according to the H-index ranking, the National Academy of Sciences with the national H-index 32 ranks third in the republic after the Kyrgyz Medical Academy and Kyrgyz-Turkish University. . It is these institutions that are recognized as the leaders of the scientific potential of the republic.
The universities to which the National Academy of Sciences will adhere have an h-index two to three times lower than the academy. For example, Kyrgyz National University named after Zhusup Balasagyn has a national Hirsch index of 18, Osh State University – 13, Kyrgyz National Agrarian University named after KI Skryabin – 12, Technical University of Kyrgyz state named after I. Razzakov – 9 and so on
Thus, the membership of some scientific institutions of the National Academy of Sciences in these universities will reduce the scientific potential of the academy and, most likely, slightly increase it in the universities. Such “decentralization” will lead the country to the degradation of its science.
Kanatbek Abdrakhmatov: The National Academy of Sciences of the Kyrgyz Republic is the highest scientific institution that coordinates scientific research in the country. Photo: Lyubov Shkuratova
If you remember, there was such a practice in schools – losers were attached to excellent students so that they would study better. And in our case, everything happens as if it were the other way around – excellent students were attached to losers.
The Academy of Sciences is ready to work with higher education institutions. After all, university graduates are our potential employees. But how one is going to do this under the conditions described above is not clear. I would like to meet with the leaders of the country to present them with a different point of view on this issue.
You know, it would be better for the reform to take another path. Today there are 79 scientific organizations in the republic, of which only 20 belong to the Academy of Sciences. The others are in ministries, universities. What they do, we don’t know. Although they should. Because, I repeat, according to the Constitution, the National Academy of Sciences of the Kyrgyz Republic is the highest scientific institution of Kyrgyzstan, which coordinates scientific research in the country. This is where you have to put things in order.
– Despite all the problems that make Kyrgyz science unattractive to young people, they still come to you. What motivates them?
Kanatbek Abdrakhmatov: There are those who are really interested. They want to know. They come, they ask and they stay. But these are the minority. There are mostly young people who have not been able to settle in more prosperous places.
- Again, I have a question about salaries. Last year, the salaries of public sector employees were significantly increased in the republic. Did this affect scientists?
Kanatbek Abdrakhmatov: They increased them by 50%. It is quite important. But we had a harm premium. She was removed. We are still waiting for the 300 million soms promised by the government for the realization of five projects prepared by republican scientists. The projects are ready. For example, the creation of a genetics laboratory by the Institute of Biotechnology. All you need is $1.5 million.
- If we talk about projects, tell us about the concrete results of the work of Republican scientists. What to be proud of?
Kanatbek Abdrakhmatov: Take, for example, the Institute of Seismology. There they began compiling a new seismic zoning map on a probabilistic basis. How is it different? Previously, a map was drawn based on an assessment of what mother earth was capable of over a period of time. Let’s say we come to the conclusion that somewhere, sometimes, a magnitude 9 earthquake can occur. Builders ask a reasonable question: Why do we need your “somewhere and sometimes”? We build a house, its lifespan is 50 years. They ask: can you create such a map that will tell you what the maximum force of shaking of the Earth’s surface will be in the next 50 years exactly at the site of the construction site?
There is such a technique that allows us to say with some probability that in the coming years the level of seismicity there will not exceed, for example, 7-8 points. Such a card will have a great positive effect on the economy of Kyrgyzstan.
There is a chemical institute in the academy, which is already ready to produce herbal medicines in the Kyrgyz Republic. The staff of the institute studied everything, published scientific articles. Just need money to start production. Today, several thousand tons of medicinal herbs are exported abroad for processing, and this can be done in the republic. But, unfortunately, few people are interested in this and our other developments from a business perspective.
- How does the National Academy of Sciences of the Kyrgyz Republic develop cooperation with Russian colleagues?
Kanatbek Abdrakhmatov: Not so long ago I met with the President of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Gennady Krasnikov. We had a good conversation, discussed the areas in which we could work together, the help that Russian scientists could give us. It turned out that we are all interested in environmental topics. Take, for example, Issyk-Kul. How many tourists can be allowed on the lake provided the reservoir is not badly damaged? We welcome millions of vacationers, but our “mountain pearl” is a closed ecosystem. How many visitors can she “digest” without hurting herself? We do not have the strength to explore Issyk-Kul on our own, and in Russia there are fancy scientific institutes that could help us in this matter.
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