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[LUSAKA] Zambia's parliament last week endorsed a report slamming the government's science record and called for a big increase in research funding as a key tool for economic development.

The parliamentary committee on science and technology published the report on Friday (2 June) after a six-month inquiry into the activities of Zambia's science ministry and other government departments.

It highlights gaps between funds allocated in the national budget to research institutions and the amounts they actually received.

The report says inadequate funding means that facilities in scientific institutions are in poor condition, which discourages promising scientists from working in them.

It also criticises the way science is taught in secondary schools, colleges and universities.

Tresphor Bwalya, who chaired the committee, told SciDev.Net that the government should "recapitalise, rehabilitate and [then] maintain all research infrastructures in public institutions in the country".

The report urges the government to give clear directives regarding its position on patenting, commercialising and using technological discoveries.

Lloyd Thole, secretary of the National Science and Technology Council, told the committee that for Zambia to develop, efforts must be made to increase awareness among the public, policymakers and in industry of the role science can play.

Paul Zambezi, the science ministry's permanent secretary, said in the report that the government is committed to making science a priority in all sectors of the economy.

He said the ministry is taking steps to rehabilitate scientific institutions countrywide.

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