Science and higher education in Mexico have been in crisis for decades, and some of the problems we have been falling behind in the past three years have been exacerbated. This was the main conclusion we reached at the “Science and Higher Education in Mexico: A Defining Moment” forum that we had in the Senate of the Republic. In this pluralistic space, academics, academics and students from various public and private universities, research centers, research consortia and scientific groups participated.
For the Forum, autonomy, freedom of thought and research and the integration of Mexican sciences in an interconnected and global world, are the pillars on which the country must stand to strengthen its university and its scientific, technological and innovative development. However, the Mexican state destroyed these foundations by co-opting decision-making in universities, by weakening autonomy, centralizing decisions, preventing self-administration and imposing “ideological limits” and geographic limits on research guidelines.
Let us remember that the most complex and important problems cannot be managed only from one point of view and without going to universities abroad, because they are multifactorial, global and require a limitless approach, subject only to the scientific method and empirical verification. Allowing an ideal and sufficient environment for innovations to flourish from anywhere and an educational institution in the country, with the participation of the public and private sectors, with the aim of changing the world in unimaginable ways.
The Forum lamented that in the past decade investment in science, technology and innovation has consistently declined, going from 0.49% of GDP in 2010 to 0.31% in 2020, despite the fact that the law contemplates a commitment to at least 1 investment. % of GDP in these items. The Mexican government seems to be ignoring the evidence that it is those countries that invest more in these sectors that grow more in development and give their citizens a more dignified life.
And most importantly, those countries that have invested in their youth, those that base their public policy decisions on scientific grounds, are the most prepared to face the various crises that, in a global and interconnected world, affect all of humanity. . And the example of developing a “home” vaccine is evidence that technological innovation is not issued by decree, but rather is the result of years of planning, investment, and implementation of long-term policies.
To this neglect, we must add the way 4T has persecuted scientific life, placing it at a disadvantage and criminalizing against the state. The president devoted himself to cursing and lying about the work of many people, including the scientific and academia. Through magical thinking, it polarizes rather than unites, and promotes a culture of oppression in the face of dissent, and toward critical attitudes in the face of government decisions. Unable to dialogue and confrontation and express an opinion on their ideas and accusation without proving anything.
Forum participants also addressed the neglect and danger faced by thousands of professional academics. For Hector Vera, a researcher at UNAM, this is a result of the “republican austerity” budget cuts plaguing public universities and think tanks, but also reaching private universities who believe professors do not deserve a salary. There are no advantages. A position that is reflected in the “granting” of the academic world. Benito Juarez Charitable Universities is an example that professors are “grant recipients” and are not allowed to sign an employment contract.
Despite the grievances towards the scientific and academic community, these societies continue to resist. Despite government pressure, they neither give up nor give up. Although they have been called “neo-liberals” and “neo-conservatives”, who assume that everything has a commercial vocation, they show that science is objective and impartial, and that its use varies according to who bestows it on them, among them governments, politicians, and economic forces. For Senator Beatriz Paredes, this should be the main horizon: the Mexican state, together with the scientific communities, will have to determine the course, without restrictions and openness to the idea of shared leadership, which is included in the global and competitive community.
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