ASTANA – President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev held the first meeting of the National Council for Science and Technology on April 12, where he outlined priorities for Kazakhstan’s science and technology development, reported the Akorda press service. The event marked the Day of Science Workers.
During the meeting, Tokayev announced the appointment of Kunsulu Zakaria to the post of President of the National Academy of Sciences.
Zakaria is a laureate of the Al Farabi State Prize in Science and Technology, a member of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences and a developer of QazCovid-in (QazVac), Kazakhstan’s inactivated vaccine against coronavirus.
Addressing the meeting, Tokayev noted science was always considered key to development, as all achievements in the history of humanity have been reached thanks to knowledge.
“In the era of advanced technologies, no progress is possible without science. Therefore, I pay special attention to its development. In my election program, I specifically expressed my position on this issue. The development of science is one of the most important areas of state policy,” he said.
Filling gaps in science
Many issues in the sphere of science that have accumulated over recent years remain unresolved in Kazakhstan. In this regard, the President urged to put this right to make Kazakhstan a prosperous country.
Globally, science has become a huge industry with financial turnover in the billions of dollars, he said. The value of large technology corporations has reached a trillion dollars. The advent of neural networks and artificial intelligence has led to truly revolutionary processes.
“A new reality is coming. If we do not adapt to these changes, we may be left on the sidelines of progress. Our ultimate goal is to be among the leading countries, not following behind. This is certainly a very challenging goal, which we must acknowledge,” Tokayev said, adding that “Kazakhstan should become a state that does not study, but teaches; does not consume, but produces.”
The President emphasized that despite all the country’s efforts, domestic science has not yet become the engine of national social and economic progress, stating that Kazakhstan is critically lagging in the most advanced branches of science.
New approaches to science development
According to the President, the Kazakh Government will implement a set of measures to form an open model of science. In particular, he offered to legislate new approaches to the development of science, strengthen the relationship between scientific, technological and economic policy of the state, and introduce tax incentives and investment preferences to stimulate business investments in the sector.
Tokayev focused on the need to start implementing a comprehensive plan to open strong scientific centers and institutes in the natural sciences, engineering and technology, as well as social and humanitarian areas. The President instructed to increase by 1.5 times the size of additional payment for academic degrees and titles of employees of university and scientific organizations.
According to Tokayev, it is extremely important to develop smart cities and agglomerations, and thoroughly study the Caspian Sea, ensuring the biological security of the country.
“It is necessary to increase grain yields by breeding new varieties, focus on the selection in animal husbandry and ensure adequate watering of fruit and vegetable crops in the desert regions. Large grants should be allocated for these important areas,” he said.
Addressing the material and technical conditions of national scientific institutions, Tokayev instructed authorized structures to modernize infrastructure and construct modern laboratories.
National Academy of Sciences needs profound changes
Tokayev said the academy plays a huge role in the new model of science development, insisting on fundamental changes within the institution.
“Kazakhstan has many academicians, some of whom have nothing to do with science, as they do not contribute to its development… New leadership of the academy should pay close attention to this urgent problem. The authority and status of the academy must be impeccable,” he said.
According to Tokayev, the new model of science based on a partnership between the state and business is in line with the strategic course for building a Just and Fair Kazakhstan. This will enable solving social and economic problems. The President expressed hope for a new generation of scientists who will continue the work of Kanysh Satpayev, Alkey Margulan and other outstanding Kazakh scientists of the past.