Tuesday, 25 March 2014

UoM : Un haut cadre accusé de plagiat

Link to original article
  • http://www.defimedia.info/defi-quotidien/dq-actualites/item/49892-uom-un-haut-cadre-accuse-de-plagiat.html
This article is really intriguing - I will use the approach of a soccernet.com blogger - the famous ''Three things'' article...

Three things 

1.Brilliant students or Whistle-blower colleagues?

Students have realized that the 'haut cadre' has had recourse to plagiarism in Journal Science and Royal Society of Biological Services. This suggests that UOM is finally playing dans la cour des grands as apparently many students (the press article refers to ''un groupe d'etudiants") are active in this area and have been strangely looking at such kinds of articles. Or is it that information has leaked from colleagues who knew about any kind of procedure that was ongoing with respect to the alleged case of plagiarism? Could academics be becoming whistle-blowers to the student community nowadays? it seems possible!

2.The timing of the press article and the timing of the release of such information 

In the press article it seems the University authorities have conducted some background checks and its revealed nothing was found that is linked to plagiarism...Therefore could someone knowledgeable enough with respect to the issue have chosen the ''right'' timing to leak .....

3. The culture of mistrust and to some extent backstabbing has not yet been overcome at the UoM 

Sadly though but this is the reality. The article of the press demonstrates clearly that we have still a lot to surmount in this aspect of professional life and inter-collegial trust and support. Backstabbing is becoming by far the most notorious way to do away with those whom you see as challengers or opponents rather than fair competition. 

Let us pray for a better UoM and that backstabbers take the time to sit and think of what would they feel like if they were backstabbed one day .......

Saturday, 22 March 2014

A reflection on Education for Development in the Mauritian Context

In developed countries, Finland serving as an excellent example, it is widely said and proven that research has been the driving force behind innovation that led to the socio-economic developments of the countries through industrialization, the design and development of new products and services to the global markets (OECD 2010). Research and development in the context of developing countries should also embody community service as an important and key element to promote social justice and alleviation of poverty.

The University is more and more called upon to assume a preponderant role in the socio-economic development process of the country through sustainable initiatives to promote community building, social progress and inclusion for all.  Unfortunately the reality in Universities at least in the developing world and in our local context that research takes another priority dimension – that of getting publications for promotion. The University of Mauritius had an external academic audit in 2005, which was conducted again in 2012, followed by a Visitor (appointed by the Prime Minister) in 2012 itself to look into the operational challenges being faced by the University in the 21st Century. The common critique of all the three successive reports was the lack of research being undertaken at the level of the University. At the same time the two external audits commended a Faculty in particular for its very high research output. This is a type of contradiction, which calls for a broader debate into the issue of research and development in a small university of a small developing island surrounded by the ocean. Research leads to the exploration of new ideas, which in turn are developed into products and services that can be commercially exploited or that can lead to significant improvement to the community (common good).

Naturally speaking, research and development activities often span over years, even decades and in some cases more than that. On the other hand, when research is evaluated on the number of publications an academic achieves over a pre-defined period of time to be promoted, a rat race of research and publications gets underway. And, when people engage in such a race of research and publications we often end up with little or no applications of the research. Researchers are driven by the mindset where after a paper is successfully published in a peer-reviewed journal, then they move on to undertake the next ‘research’ with a publishability prospect. The other route many will take to distort the value of research is to fit themselves into all possible situations where their name could figure out on a published work to earn some marks. Hence we find ourselves being a bit the jacks-of-all-trades under the umbrella of ‘multidisciplinary research’.

Research and Development is also seen as the number of patents a University and its personnel can file. While this could have been a real value addition for developed countries with a variety of natural resources and extensive scientific advancement, over-emphasis on this element for a country like Mauritius is a misconception about research. Filing a patent is one thing and the ability to sustain it and convert it into a successfully commercial product or service is a completely different element. While the aim should not be to discourage this aspect, the real issue in developing countries is that less and less value is attached to research for development. In a country like Mauritius where free primary, secondary and tertiary education has been a landmark in the socio-economic development and political stability in the country, it is deplored that research in education for development has long been a sidelined issue despite having three public universities and one dedicated institution for teacher training.

Recently the concept of ‘Maurice Ile Durable (MID)’ has been put forward as the new leitmotiv for promoting socio-economic development, social justice and education in a framework respecting the environmental eco-system. Such an ecosystem that the MID concept is trying to promote is perfectly in line with the concept of Living Labs model. The Living Lab is essentially a research lab that fundamentally departs from the closed and restricted nature of research laboratories working on ‘closed’ innovation to the concept of an ‘open’ user-centered innovation system where all stakeholders form an integral part of the process. Hence the ‘living’ concept being embodied and replacing the term research in research labs.