ACADEMIC RESEARCH

2009-02-24 00:00

YESTERDAY’S edition of The Witness carried two rather contradictory reports. One was an (unusual) good-news story about the University of KwaZulu-Natal and the achievements of two of its academics on the local campus who have been recognised as leading international scholars in their respective fields. Both biologist Steven Johnson and mathematician Mike Henning have received the coveted A-rating from the National Research Foundation, thereby bringing to five the number of scholars on the local campus who have been so acclaimed. That both are men in their forties with years of productive research ahead of them is an additional plus factor.

However, two swallows do not a summer make. A survey by the International Institute for Scientific Information shows that South Africa’s overall research output is falling and that it now ranks below Brazil in all 22 disciplines of science and that it has dropped behind Egypt in six areas, including engineering, physics and materials science. It has even fallen behind Nigeria in agricultural sciences, which is not good news for hopes of achieving food security. A generation of aging researchers, poaching by the private sector, emigration and higher workloads on those who remain are contributory factors to this unhappy state of affairs.

The government is not unaware of the problem. It needs to do more to address it, however. For instance, it has a target to provide 210 research chairs to fund academics to concentrate on pure research work. Only 88 of these have been set up. Expenditure on academic research might not sound politically glamorous or vote catching, but it is essential if South Africa is to be a winning nation.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.