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TAHA AKYOL > Iran is getting ahead of Turkey in science

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The Iranian mathematician Professor Meryem Mirzahani has won the Fields Medal, considered the Nobel of mathematics.

While congratulating Mizrahani on his Twitter page, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani posted two photos of the award winner, one of her with a headscarf and one without. Thank God we no longer have an attire problem in Turkey. But in Iran, where the style of covering called the “hijab” is compulsory, Rouhani’s attitude is symbolically an act of freedom and conciliation. The president of the Republic of Iran, a turbaned mullah himself, the honorable Rouhani came into power with slogans of “moderation.” This concept pointed out to softening and reform. Rouhani is, step by step, walking in that direction.  

It is a strategic power factor in our time for countries to be peaceful domestically and to have extensive relations with the rest of the world. If it continues this way, it won’t be surprising that Iran, which was until recently based on religious components, will gain weight for political reasons, too.
From where to where?

I follow scientific developments around the world through SJR (Scientific Journal Rankings). According to SJR, Turkey was far ahead of Iran. In 1996, the number of scientific articles in mathematics in Turkey was 241 and only 74 in Iran. In 2000, there were 427 in Turkey, and 164 in Iran.

In 2008, Iran caught up and even went a bit ahead of Turkey: Scientific publishing in mathematics were 1,539 in Turkey, and 1,558 in Iran. And in 2013: Scientific publishing in mathematics were 2,444 in Turkey, and 3,082 in Iran.

As we can observe, besides the personal capability of Professor Mirzahani, her success is also supported by the advancements in the field of mathematics in Iran. Of course, there are still many areas where Turkey is far ahead of Iran, medical science being one of the most important. But in an overall count, Iran has surpassed Turkey in mathematics and computer sciences.

Science and politics

Turkey’s improvement in scientific publications has continued over the 12 years of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) administration. The budget allocated for research and development in the GSMH was even higher than any previous government. These are all facts. 

But isn’t it also a sign of error that we’ve been lagging behind for years in the PISA exams and that Iran has surpassed us? It is an evident truth that our education system is failing to nurture a scientific mentality.

Professor prime minister


The development of science is, above all, dependent on the allocation of resources. It is necessary to cut down on populist investments that bring votes, and to invest in science, technology and the use of technology in the industry – all of which will bear their fruits in the long run. 

Secondly, the polarization in the country is decreasing interest in science. The dominance of ideological language is almost killing the objectivity that is absolutely necessary for a scientific mindset, in all segments of the public.

And even more importantly, the prioritization of “loyalty” over “competence” in public institutions and in scientific councils will generate many negative outcomes in the long run.

September/02/2014

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