The Candle of Learning

By Salam, Abdus | UNESCO Courier, May-June 1986 | Go to article overview

The Candle of Learning


Salam, Abdus, UNESCO Courier


The candle of learning

THE question which I wish to lead up to is, are we in the developing world today firmly on the road to a renaissance in the sciences, just as the West was in the twelfth century at the time of Michael the Scot?

For this renaissance to happen, there are two prerequisites: one, the availability of places like Toledo where international concourse can take place, where one can light a candle from a candle; secondly, there has to be an interest in developing societies to give the topmost priority to the acquisition of knowledge, just as, for example, the Japanese did after the Meiji revolution by enshrining the acquiring of knowledge in their constitution.

Regretfully, if I may speak the truth and if I look at the world of developing countries as it is today, I see that neither of these requirements is being met. The opportunities for international concourse are fast shrinking, with greater and greater restrictions on acceptance of overseas scholars from developing countries. It is becoming increasingly clear that soon the developing world will need internationally-run, United Nations-run, Unesco-run, institutions, universities of science, not just for research as at the United Nations University in Tokyo, but for high-level teaching of traditional technology and science, both pure and applied. The second prerequisite which I mentioned, a passionate desire on the part of the developing countries for scientific knowledge and the removal of all barriers to its acquisition, is unfortunately non-existent.

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