Eagerness for efficiency and virtuality in Colombian Regions
Pedro René Eslava Mocha
The echoes after the controversy that strikes up the attempt of the national government to cut-off the resources
for science budgeted for 2015 has not ceased. The tension led to the resignation of the Colciencias Director.
CONPES announces that the investment in science and technology will remain stable with 379.000 million
Pesos for 2015. Nevertheless beyond the budgetary problems, Colciencias, the flagship of science, technology
and innovation drags into its hull - That barely keeps overwater- a series of problems that keep it from proper
navigation Colciencias' crossroads goes beyond the instability of its head: there are other obvious issues besides
the impossibility of increasing its budget in the recent years:
- The first has to do with its acritical techno-bureaucratic disposition: measurement approaches and the standardization
of the researchers and research groups community. The results of the calls for research groups
and researchers in 2013 have unleashed the voice of protest from numerous scientists and trainees throughout
the country. A former Colciencias' director, Felipe Garcia Vallejo, quoted by El Tiempo journal says:
"The most perverse effect of this measurement is that, although it favors the most productive groups, it also
hides research from regional universities and those incipient groups... "
The techno-bureaucracy of Colciencias has devoted primarily to implement online platforms - which
still have innumerable technical failures - rather than analyzing and solving real problems related to how to
do science and the training of researchers. It becomes clear its eagerness to systematize, measure, "to produce
formats to fill", rate and classify groups and scientists under the trend set by global power centers with a
merely mercantile and utilitarian perspective thus losing the social and human dimension of the problematic
in science and research in Colombia.
To meet the standards and to fill databases is needed in these times of globalization, it is not unknown
the need to count with a functional network of researchers connected with science at universal level. Human
beings such us: teachers, students, technicians, communities, etc., face on daily basis various contexts of
their local or regional reality in order to generate results and new knowledge. This knowledge is not always
applicable to commercial or business profit, as it seems to be the primary haste that overwhelms now. Recent
listings and qualifications/disqualifications have left out a lot of people truly interested in participating as
actors or knowledge managers.
Those excluded from the listings run the risk of not being taken into account and some of them have worked
for years preparing young people, developing projects, writing relevant findings and reflections. The fact they
have not let themselves be seen through the "observation window" of the virtual applicative makes them now,
suddenly, intangible beings, ethereal ones remaining outside funding, unworthy of support due to the new Colciencias
registration processes. This, without talking about the lack of acknowledgment for university publishers
or the announced disturbance that will suffer the scientific journals published in the country. Researchers have
felt dissatisfied with Colciencias and have not gone out to defend it massive and publicly as might have been
expected after the hard time it just went through.
- The second problem is closely related with the role Colciencias has played inside the organism in charge of
assigning the oil royalties budget addressed to research fields. Almost four years ago, it was announced that
the 10% of royalties were going to be invested on science, technology and innovation projects. However, a
preliminary view displays a great level of inconformity regarding Collegiate Organisms of Management and
Decision Making (OCAD in Spanish). These organisms would be responsible of administrating the necessary
fuel resources for the innovation locomotive which has not yet started. The years-lasting-dream of solving the
critical lack of financial support on key fields for a balanced country development, is now drifting in a sea
crowded with political pirates. Most of academics feel like politics, methodology and procedures followed to allocate and deliver these resources should be changed in deep in order to accomplish the strategic
function proposed. We are waiting for an analysis from Colciencias as well as from the academic
communities regarding this matter.
The scientific community does not refuse peer verification or arbitrage neither to create reliable databases
considering necessary to set scientific information in the cyberspace in which investigative results can
reach global fields. Moreover, the community wishes to be recognized worldwide, but most importantly,
they pursue to be on service of enterprises as well as of the excluded communities inside the country.
Productive purposes behind science virtualization (under a model that prioritizes knowledge commercial
use), can be a tramp in which we should put warning signs on it. Meanwhile, in some regions like ours,
under the intervention of increasing new productive forms -great scale extractive and intensive industries-
there is a territory at disposal, now occupied by new investors, that is changing along with central
government consent, ignoring the future consequences and provoking great concern regarding cultural
and environmental deterioration starting with the fast effect on water resources.
It is also unsettling the low participation of local people regarding the benefits it brings the economic
dynamics, particularly in relation with oil exploitation and the agribusiness boom in the high plains. Our
scientists from Orinoquia have not addressed the necessary questions to understand the changes and the
impact of new production models. We assume that many questions have not been raised properly, and
what is worst: the answers may reach us late, while Colciencias and Colombia's university are worried
about the online platforms, applicable taxonomy used with the researchers or in the fulfillment of the
agreements reached within the world trade organization.