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More black female research students needed

by South African Government News Agency
on 13 Nov 2014
South African Government News Agency
South African Government News Agency

Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor says the country needs more black female research students in the science and technology field from the new generation of students.

Speaking at the Department of Science and Technology-National Research Foundation annual Centres of Excellence (CoEs) Directors' Forum at the University of the Western Cape, the Minister said she was concerned that the country was not attracting enough black students – particularly black female students – to enrol for Doctoral or Masters degrees in the field of science and technology.

“We are not seeing enough black students proceeding into this level of intellectual studying. We are not seeing enough South African black students, and we have to address that.

“We are not seeing enough women in this new generation that is emerging, particularly, not enough African women,” the Minister said.

She said a low proportion of female students were enrolling for post-graduate studies, and said this was a trend that needed to be reversed.

“In terms of gender, proportionately fewer women enrol for Masters and Doctorate studies than men, and we need to examine why,” she said.

The Minister also said that overall, while a proportion of black postgraduates grew since 2002, the proportion of black students from other countries grew at a much faster rate for the past six to eight years.

The Minister said interventions need to be devised to attract black students into post-graduate research degrees and ultimately, into research careers.

“What we are concerned about is that we are not really getting young people to appreciate that an academic career is a career worth pursuing amongst black students.

“We need to find ways of incentivising and also of attracting [black students in the field of research]

“We need to find what form of strategy will help us in getting these young people in the fields of research,” she said.

The Minister said, meanwhile, that the Centres of Excellence that the department has sponsored since 2004 – that are this year celebrating 10 years of existence – have done well ever since they were established.

The five key performance areas of the CoEs are research/knowledge production; education and training; information brokerage; networking; and service rendering.

The Minister said through the centres, more than 650 post-graduates were trained through the centres per annum.

She said that in 2012/ 13, just fewer than 1000 Masters and Doctorate students were South African Research Chairs Initiative (SARCI) – which translates to 10 Masters and Doctorate students per supervisor.

The Minister said the students were trained in the areas of engineering, science and technology.

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