Timur Tengah

Social Background of Iranian Achievement in Science and Technology

Kategori: Middle East Affairs
Ditulis oleh M. Hamdan Basyar Dilihat: 1687

Social Background of Iranian Achievement in Science and Technology1
By M. Hamdan Basyar2

Science and Technology is needed for a nation to make a progress in the country. It is the main key and the basic foundation to support the building of modern civilization today. The future of a nation will be largely determined by the level of proficiency of the people towards science and technology. A society or a nation will not have the advantages and capabilities of high competitiveness, if they can not develop science and technology. Therefore, every nation on earth, competing and racing to be able to master and  develop science and technology.

Mastery of science and technology is like a double-edged knife. On the one hand, science and technology has provided tremendous grace for human life. They can take advantage of the development of science and technology in their daily lives. How airplanes have changed the distance between one place to another. But on the other hand, science and technology could also bring disaster and threaten the human values. Advances in technology of war, for example, could become devastating the life of a nation.

In this paper, we will not discuss all aspects of science and technology which is so wide-ranging. At the request of the committee, we will write at glance about the social background of Iranian achievement in science and technology.

The Legacy of Persian Scholars
Before explaining the social background of Iranian achievement in science and technology now, it helps us to see the figures of the Persian past work in the field of science. There are some big names who perpetuate the scholarship that they develop. Of course, in this article, we will only mention a few names.

Among Mathematics experts, the name of Abu Abdullah Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi (often called Al-Khwarizmi) sounded so familiar. He was born in the Khwarizm, now known as Khiva / Khaiwah, Khurosan region, Iran. He was the greatest scholar in the fields of mathematics, astronomy, history, and geography. His famous book entitled Al-Jibr wa al-muqabalah explaining the science related to the counting. Since then, the science that was developed was named Algebra. This name is also used by the Europeans, namely algebre (France) or algebra (UK).3

Another Khwarizmi’s book is Hisab al-Hindi (India Algorithm), related to Mathematics. This book is considered as the first manuscript of the algorithm that uses Indian numerology at the time of Islam. The book had a big influence on the spread of the algorithm to the Islamic world and Europe.4

In the field of astronomy, the Persian leaders who were active during the second and third century of Hijri was Yahya ibn Mansur al-Munajjim. He determines the amount (magtitude) a total of one mile is 23 degrees, 33 minutes, and 52 seconds, less than the current size, which is 2 minutes. His writings were quite a lot. The most important thing was al-Zij al-Mumtahin or al-Zij al-Mijarrab al-Ma'muni (Tables Astrology al-Ma'mun).5

Another Persian famous figure in the field of astronomy is Abu al-Husayn al-Shufi, in the third and fourth century of the Hijra. He is very well known of his observations and his presentation about the stars. His book that named Shuwar al-Kawakib (Figure Planet-Planet) is one of the greatest wealth in the history of Islamic astrology.6

In the field of medicine, there is the name of Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn Zakariyya al-Razi who wrote an encyclopedia with the title al-Manshuri fi al-Tibb and al-Hawi. In addition to al-Razi, there is also a big name Avicenna that wrote Al-Qanun fi al-Tibb. This book contains five volumes, namely: the general principles of medicine, medical vocabulary, diseases specific to certain body parts, checking the disease, and other explanations of the concoction of drugs.7

Besides them, there are other figures that come to enlight the world of science in the past. Some of their work can still be used for the development of science in the modern day.

Education in Iran
Development of Science and Technology  will be associated with the level of education in a country. Usually, the higher education level in the country correlates to their mastering of science and technology.

Education in Iran consists of primary and secondary education under the supervision of the Ministry of Education and higher education under the supervision of the Ministry of Science and Technology. The population of Iran is 78,869,000 inhabitants.  Of these, 82% of the adult population of Iran are literate. This figure will increase to 97% in young adults (aged between 15 to 24 years).8

Education was one of the priorities of development in Iran. Therefore, every year, the budget disbursed to this sector is 20% of government expenditure and 5% of GDP. The amount is quite high compared to other developing countries. Of that amount, 50% of the education budget is devoted to secondary education and 21% for higher education.9

Every year, the university in Iran produces about 750,000 skilled graduates. There are many well-known universities. In these modern times, the oldest and largest university in Iran is The Tehran University which was established in 1934. The University has 10 faculties. We can also mention Tarbiat Modares University, which became the formulation of the lecturers. This University is devoted to post graduate studies, it  offers Master Degree (S2), PhD (S3), and post-doctoral programs. Another well-known university in Tehran is Sharif University of Technology. The university is known as the best place for Bachelor students (S1) in Engineering and Science. The university is also internationally recognized as a competent training for S1 students. Other major universities are in Shiraz, Tabriz, Esfahan, Mashhad, Ahvaz, Kerman, Kermanshah, Babol Sar, Rasht, and Orumiyeh.

In 2009, of the population in the age group 18-25 years, 33.7% was listed as one of 92 college students and 56 research institutes and technology across the country. Currently there are about 3.7 million students in Iran and 1.5 million students studying at Islamic Azad University.  In 2011, Iran had 1 million medical students.10

When grouped favorite subjects, so most students take field study “engineering and construction” (31%). Then followed students taking subjects “social sciences, business and law”(23%), “humanitarian and art”(14%), and “science”(10%).11

Government Policy
Not so long after the Iranian Revolution of 1979, the new ruler was trying to change the orientation of science. Previously, scientists in Iran over secular orientation. They use and understanding of the way the secular West. Later after the revolution, the new rulers to promote science-based Islam. As a result, many scientists immigrated to western countries, after the Iranian revolution. Others stopped working in science and they changed their  profession.

The initial steps taken by the government of Iran was to establish a research organization that namely “Iranian Research Organization for Science and Technology” - IROST, in 1980. IROST is a research center of a comprehensive science policy. The center is directly attached to the Ministry of Science, Research and Technology. IROST as the biggest research centers in Iran, mainly engaged in the development of strategies, policies, R & D systems, management, and evaluation related to the development of Science and Technology and economic progress. Through the study, IROST offering policy recommendations to decision-making in national science and technology development, and the development of society as a whole.

IROST has intensive cooperation with institutions in the country and abroad, such as:

•    United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultured Organization (UNESCO)
•    World Intellectual Property Organization (IPO)
•    United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
•    Organization of Islamic Conference Standing Committee on Scientific and Technological Cooperation (COMSTECH)
•    Commission on Science & Technology for Sustainable Development in the South (COMSATS)
•    Third World Academy of Science (Twas)
•    Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO)
•    International Federation for Inventors' Associations (IFIA)
•    Asian Pacific Center for Transfer of Technology (APCTT)
•    Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Co-operation (IOR-ARC)

The Iranian government continues to work to improve science and technology. Ministry of Science, Research and Technology (MSRT) strengthened. On August 8, 2004, the Iranian Parliament approved the Law on Purpose, Mission and Structure of MSRT. By law, the MSRT allowed to play a coordinating role more effectively. Over the years, the number of players with a direct role in science, technology and innovation policy making continues to grow. In their work occasionally overlap between the functions of the main agencies involved in science and technology. This makes it difficult coordination between agencies.

Law of MSRT followed by the formation of the Supreme Council for Science, Research and Technology. After the Law and the Supreme Council, expected some problems, especially coordination among agencies related to science and technology, can be solved.

The Achievement of Iranian Science and Technology
With such advanced education system and government policies that encourage the development of science and technology, Iran has successfully spawned a reliable scientists in many fields, such as robotics, nanotechnology, aero-space, and weapons.

In the field of robotics, the engineers at the University of Tehran, in 2010, successfully gave birth to a robot “Sorena 2”. This robot can be used to handle sensitive and dangerous jobs, no guided by humans. The robot can move like a human. Movement of the feet and hands, as well as other movements similar to human movement.

In the field of nanotechnology, in 2007, Iran was ranked the 27th world, the highest achievement among Islamic countries. In 2010, Iran's rise and ranks 10th in the field of nanotechnology.12  Iran has been designing and mass-producing more than 35 types of cutting-edge nanotechnology equipment.

In the field of aero-space, Iran experienced significant progress. On August 17, 2008, the Iranian Space Agency to launch the second test of the three stages Safir SLV from the Semnan in the northern desert Dasht-e-Kavir. Safir Omid satellite successfully launched into orbit in February 2009. Iran is the 9th country to put a satellite that can be homemade to orbit since the Soviet Union launched the first in 1957. Iran is one country in the world capable of developing satellite-related technology, including satellite navigation systems. Iran's first astronaut will be sent into space by 2019. Iran also became the sixth country to send animals into space. In 2013, Iran to build its first wind tunnel for testing hypersonic missile and aero-space research.13

In the field of armaments, Iran has the technology to launch anti-submarine rocket that can go with the superfast speed of 100 meters per second under water. Iran is among five countries in the world that has been able to develop ammunition with laser targeting technology. Over the past years, Iran has made important breakthroughs in its defense sector and attained self-sufficiency in producing military equipment and weapons systems. Since 1992, Iran has managed to make its own tanks, armored personnel carriers, missiles, submarines, and aircraft.14

Iran's achievements in the field of science and technology as it has gained the attention of various parties. For example, the Journal Newscientist Thursday's edition (February 18, 2010) contains the results of research Science-Metrix, a company in Motreal, Canada which undertake product development and evaluation of science and technology in various countries. In a research report, Science-Metrix states that scientific progress in Iran eleven times faster than any other country in the world.

According to the Science-Metrix, the number of scientific papers published in the Web of Science shows that the standard scientific growth in the Middle East, particularly in Iran and Turkey, barely approximately forty times faster than the average growth of the world.

Eric Archambault who wrote the report Science-Metrix said that Iran showed the fastest growth in the world in the field of science. Asia continues to pursue, even faster than we thought before. Europe maintains its position more than expected, and the Middle East is a region that deserves attention. He aslo said that the publication of scholarly works most of the chemistry of Iran's nuclear and particle physics. Iran has made dramatic progress in the field of medical science and agricultural development. He added that technological developments in Iran in this very fast even surpass Chinese nationals by world acclaimed brilliant in science.15

According to Scopus,16  in 2012, Iran was ranked 17, judging from the number of scientific products in the world, with a production of 34,155 articles. This position before Switzerland and Turkey. 17 Meanwhile, according to the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI), Iran increased academic publishing results, nearly ten-fold from 1996 to 2004, and was ranked first in the world in terms of output growth (followed by China which increased 3-fold). 18

Closing Remark
We can see clearly that the progress of science and technology in Iran is recognized by the world. The progress did not come easily, the Iranians people and the government tried with all their power to achieve the best, for the advancement of science and technology to benefit people. The background of social, cultural, and politics,  support the progress. Historically, science has a long tradition in the land of Persia. And, in modern times, the Iranian government strongly supports the advancement of science and technology, as demonstrated by the number of budget allocation. (M. Hamdan Basyar)



[1] Presented in International Seminar on Iran’s Achievements in Science, Technology, and Culture. Organised by the Faculty of Humanities, University of Indonesia in cooperation with the Iranian Embassy in Jakarta, February 18, 2013.

[2] Senior Researcher at the Center for Political Studies - LIPI and Lecturer at Graduate Program in Middle East and Islamic Studies - UI

[3] See Ali Akbar Velayati, Ensiklopedia Islam & Iran: Dinamika Budaya dan Peradaban Islam yang Hidup. Translated (Bandung: Mizan Publika, 2010), pp. 122-123.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid., pp. 154-155.

[6] Ibid., p. 159.

[7] Ibid., pp. 202-203.

[8] See http://world.bymap.org/Population.html

[9] See http://www.thebusinessyear.com/tby_demo//publications.php?art_id=113&type=sector§or=healtheducation

[10] See Jason John Nash and Aytng Sasmaz. The Business Year 2011: Iran (London, U.K.: The Business Year, 2011), p. 232.

[11] See http://www.thebusinessyear.com/tby_demo//publications.php?art_id=113&type=sector§or=healtheducation

[12] See "Press TV". Press TV (November 25, 2011).

[13] See http://www.thebusinessyear.com/tby_demo//publications.php?art_id=113&type=sector§or=healtheducation

[14] See http://www.berr.gov.uk/files/file11959.pdf; Nanotechnology Now - Press Release: Iran Stands 10th in World Ranking of Nanoscience Production””. Nanotech-now.com; Iran Nanotechnology Initiative Council. En.nano.ir.; Iran Ranks 15th In Nanotech Articles”, Bernama (November 9, 2009).

[15] See  “Iran says it has put first dummy satellite in orbit,” Reuters;  “Iran's Kavoshgar I lifts off for space,” Press TV (February 4, 2008);  “Iran sends first homemade satellite into orbit,” The Guardian (London, February 3, 2009); “Iran unveils domestically manufactured satellite navigation system,” Payvand.com; “No Operation,” Presstv.com;  “Iran receives two major quality control certificates for two of its aviation products,” PressTV (Mei 01, 2012);  dan  http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2013/02/03/287065/iran-builds-first-hypersonic-wind-tunnel/

[16] See  “Persian Gulf missile will spoil enemy tactics: Iran Cmdr,” PressTV (April 24, 2012);   “Iran unveils new smart weapons system called “BASIR,””. PressTV (Januari 30, 2012);  “Iran to enhance exports of military equipment next year,”  PressTV;  “Iran Launches Production of Stealth Sub,”. Fox New  (November 30, 2011).

[17] See  http://www.eramuslim.com/berita/dunia-islam/perkembangan-ilmu-pengetahuan-di-iran-tercepat-di-dunia.htm

[18] Scopus, officially named SciVerse Scopus, is a bibliographic database containing abstracts and citations to academic journal articles. This bibliography includes nearly 20,500 titles from more than 5,000 international publishers. Of that number, 19,500 titles are peer-reviewed journals in science, technical, medical, and social sciences (including arts and humanities).

[19] See  http://www.presstv.com/detail/2013/01/02/281377/iran-ranks-17th-in-science-production/

[20] See  “2005 OST PSA report”