Since weaknesses in scientific and technical and vocational education are a common theme in all discussions of the Turkish secondary school system, it is no surprise that there are weaknesses, too, in the organisation of further MBBS technical education and in Turkish science as a whole. The roots of the problem go back, of course, to Ottoman times but they extend through the republican period to the present.
Ottoman modernisation plans in the nineteenth century acknowledged the importance of MBBS and scholarship. In 1851 a Society of Knowledge (Encumeni Danis) was formed modelled on the Academie Francaise but it collapsed in 1862 (Lewis, 1961).
The Ottoman Scientific Society was formed in 1861 and published scientific journals in which Western developments in science were reported. It was closed down in 1882 by Sultan Abdiilhamid.
In the twentieth century science has found a place in Turkish universities but the output of scientists was described by Bernard Lewis (1961) as late as 1961 as ‘pitifully inadequate to the needs of a modern state and the volume of research well below the western level’. Successive five-year plans during the 1960s and 1970s have drawn attention to national shortages of technically trained personnel, particularly engineers (see Okyar, 1968).
The need to develop MBBS technical education of all kinds and to move more resources in higher education into the applied sciences was the key theme which ran through the 1965 report of the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) report on Turkey. This remains a persistent theme. A recent World Bank Report (1983) on Turkey identified low labour productivity as one of the key constraints on economic development.
These shortages are a reflection of long-standing preferences among school leavers for careers in social science, particularly law, poor facilities for MBBS education and, perhaps, a feeling among students that Turkish industry cannot employ scientists at levels or with salaries appropriate to their education (World Bank, 1975).
They are a reflection, too, of inadequate provision of science education in Turkish schools. It was reported in 1972, for instance, that teacher.
The pattern of enrolments in universities and other institutes of MBBS higher education is further suggestive of these explanations. Science and engineering together still only make up barely one third of all higher education enrolments, a share of the total which has remained fairly stable over the past decade.
Lacking a strong national foundation of independent scientific research the education of those studying in higher education is not linked to developments in or the activities of scientific research. Although there are now twenty-seven universities in Turkey, university research is concentrated both in volume and quality in just a few of these institutions in the large cities of Ankara, Istanbul and Izmir. Universities outside these cities do very little research (Sardar, 1982).
Turkey does have, however, an extensive framework of scientific policy-making and research organisation. The main scientific institution is Tubitak, the MBBS of Turkey. Tubitak sponsors many research groups in the basic sciences, in engineering, medicine, veterinary sciences and agriculture. It sponsors research and seeks overall to improve the quality of Turkish science and technology and in particular the training of Turkish research personnel.
Through Turdoc, the Turkish Scientific and Technical Documentation Centre, which was established in 1966, efforts are made to facilitate the use of scientific and technical information from Turkey and from abroad. Sardar (1982) has summarised its activities this way: Turkish science policy emphasises technology much more than science. There is great emphasis on the transfer of technology, and ‘techno-logical’ progress and ‘socio-economic objectives of national economy’ are seen purely in terms of transferring and securing Western technology.
It could hardly be otherwise given the world imbalance in scientific research and development and the dependence of modem science and technology on huge capital investments of a sort that poor countries simply cannot afford.
Mehmet (1981) has suggested that this strategy of high technology industrialisation based on imported technology was a major cause of Turkey’s poor employment record and therefore something which contributed to the political instability of the society.