Elementary school 521.
(photo credit: Sherihan Abdel-Rahman)
Three-quarters of the Israeli public think the state invests too little money in
academic research and development, according to a poll released by the National
Council for R&D issued for publication on Wednesday.
publicized the survey, comprised of a representative sample of 528 adults, in
time for National Science Day – March 14 – the anniversary of the birth of
“It is encouraging to see that the public regards
science and technology highly,” said Prof. Yitzhak Ben-Yisrael, chairman
of the national council.
The Dahaf Institute survey, led by Dr. Mina
Tzemah, also examined the public’s views of the status of the profession of
scientist. Individuals in the medical profession were rated number one in
prestige, while scientific professions were number two.
were engineers, followed by teachers and military officers. The least respected
profession was being a Knesset member. Teaching has risen in prestige, from 11th
place in 2009 to fourth today.
Asked what profession they would recommend
to their child or grandchild, most people chose doctors – which are in
increasingly short supply and get paid better than they used to. Sixty-eight
percent made that their first or second choice. Fifty percent chose scientist as
their first or second choice profession to recommend. Engineers, senior
businessmen (or women) and people in the humanities and culture came
Besides MKs, the least sought after profession was “social
leaders,” athletes, police officers, entertainers and journalists.
80% of votes, health is the scientific subject in which the most Israelis are
interested, followed by the environment, 60%; computers and Internet, 50%;
subjects related to water supplies, 44%; followed by history and archeology,
41%. Women are more interested in health – 82% – than men –
As for the reliability of various sources of information on science,
those surveyed picked university libraries and scientists, followed by museums,
Internet, scientific publications, public institutions that provide services,
radio, public lectures, TV, the daily press, scientists in government
ministries, clergymen and scientists in private companies, in that
More than 80% thought that investment in education in weak
socioeconomic areas will contribute to social justice. The vast majority
thought more effort and money should be invested in the economically and
As for contributions to the strength of the
nation, most polled said physicians and senior scientists were tops, followed by
engineers and other technologists and senior military officers. At the bottom
were leading entertainers.
Ninety percent think the government should
invest more funds in academic research and development, and 71% think it should
put money even in commercial R&D companies. Only 9% maintained that the
government puts too much money into R&D.
When queried about what
scientific fields the government should invest in to ensure economic growth,
those surveyed said education, followed by academic research, transportation
infrastructure, industrial R&D, military infrastructure and financial and
Poll participants gave Israel a grade
of 7.9 out of 10 in scientific and technological accomplishments. Nearly
80% thought that its achievements in this field are similar to or higher than in
other developed countries.
Ben-Yisrael concluded that according to the
results, the public values education and academic research highly and gives them
more priority than industrial research.
Seventy-two percent of the public
said they were proud of Technion Prof. Dan Shechtman’s receipt of the Nobel
Prize in Chemistry last year. Two-thirds of Israelis are concerned about
the phenomenon of the “brain drain” to the US and other countries, and 69% said
the country does not do enough to bring back leading scientists who
But only 57% of those polled said that scientific and technological
knowledge is vital for their daily life – a 9% drop from the last poll in 2009.
And just half thought these fields benefit people in all levels of society. One
in five of those queried said that since the benefits are not spread evenly in
the population, the advantages of science and technology cause estrangement
between those who do not benefit and those who do.