RSA visit at the Research Council:
Higher education successfully integrated in research cooperation
The Republic of South Africa's Minister for Higher Education and Training, Mr. “Blade” Nzimande, recently visited the Research Council of Norway, as part of President Jacob Zuma’s state visit to this country.
The meeting was testimony to a well-established cooperation and contributed to further development of the relationship.
Besides his role as Minister Dr Bonginkosi Emmanuel "Blade" Nzimande is also holding the position of General Secretary of the South African Communist Party. He has a doctorate degree in philosophy specialising in sociology. He was vocal in his support for the removal of Thabo Mbeki as President of South Africa and joined Jacob Zuma’s first government in 2009.
"We have developed excellent relations with South Africa, through ten years of research cooperation through the South Africa - Norway Programme", says Arvid Hallén, Director General of the Research Council of Norway.
"A new programme is under preparation. The capacity building achievements of prior phases in the cooperation are an inspiration to develop further the cooperation relating to higher education as well. Minister Nzimande’s visit has provided us with more reasons to consider a slight change of emphasis."
Coupled with vocational training
The South African education system is different from the system in Norway in the way higher education is administratively coupled with vocational training.
"The Minister presented his reflections on the challenges facing higher education in South Africa. It appeared that a further development of the cooperation in the field of post-conflict studies was very close to his heart", says Arvid Hallén, who was personally invited to participate in a full institutional review of the R&D system in South Africa last year.
The meeting agenda included a presentation of the new Norwegian Knowledge Centre for Education.
South African – Norwegian research cooperation
In phase II of the cooperation programme 42 million NOK and an additional 9 million ZAR was allocated. In total 13 institutions in each country have been involved, including universities, university colleges, research institutes and research councils. It has been based on the principle of equal partnership on all levels.
Priority areas have spaned from health and medicine in general and HIV/AIDS in particular, to environment, energy, ICT, communication and social change. The 27 projects in phase II have made notable achievements. Almost 200 students and staff have been involved in exchanges. On average each of the projects has produced one PHD and 2 Masters. So far the output includes 81 co-publications in refereed journals, including two articles in Science.
New business plan in pipeline
"Both countries have agreed on financial contribution to a new programme and the business plan is being prepared. Hopefully the documents will be signed within the next couple of months", says Arvid Hallén.
In his view the South Africa – Norway research cooperation can serve as a model. "I will in particular emphasise the balanced and reciprocal nature of the cooperation", says the RCN General Director.
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