Science needs more money

2011-05-24 19:08

Cape Town - Science and technology funding must be improved if South Africa is to realise its ambitious national goal of building a knowledge-based economy, Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor said on Tuesday.

"One of the areas that must be addressed is increased support for post-graduate study and for senior researchers plus a more stable funding model for all our research-performing institutions," she told the National Assembly during debate on her budget vote.

Recent research reports from universities and science councils pointed to robust and growing research activity in a wide range of disciplines.

"We are committed to ensuring we build on this wealth of intellectual activity and intend to support our institutions and researchers much more vigorously," she said.

The department was allocated R4.1bn in the adjusted estimates of 2010/2011, and spent 98%.

"Our biggest hurdle is vacancies due to the lack of appropriate skills. We will give this challenge more attention this year."

In this financial year, the allocation was R4.4bn.

Over R200m would be spent on expanding access to the SA National Research Network (SANREN) to ensure that all universities in South Africa were connected by December 2011.

Altogether 62 new research chairs would be established with a total investment in research chairs of R914m by 2013, Pandor said.

TIA is the key agency

An additional 25 post-doctoral fellowships, each worth R180 000 a year, for three years would be created.

Further, R433m went to the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA), R1.089bn to the National Research Foundation (NRF), R687m to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), R206m to the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), R93m to the SA National Space Agency (SANSA), R32m to the Africa Institute of South Africa (AISA), and R11m to the Academy of Science of SA (ASSA).

Pandor said the department intended to create an institutional and policy framework that advanced and sustained a co-ordinated and responsive national system of innovation.

The TIA was the key agency in this regard.

"TIA is now fully operational and has begun to add value to several investment opportunities," she said.

At present 26 investments had been identified, and 11 had a very strong likelihood of enhancing job creation and socio-economic development.

A further 11 others had proceeded beyond proof of concept stage and four were ready for commercialisation.

Over R400m would be committed to this successful investment portfolio.

"We will strive to secure a much larger investment in TIA for 2012," Pandor said.

  • Father-Time - 2011-05-24 19:56

    When those who were appointed on the basis of skin colour stop stealing and misappropriating the funds then you will find that maybe the money is actually enough. The reason why there is no candidates for the vacancies is because the racist ANC government would rather they be empty than give the position to a white person.

      Spoofed - 2011-05-24 21:35

      Yip just look at our forensic labs... they are there but there isn't people to work in them.

      Sizwe - 2011-05-25 11:40

      @Father... Ever thought that 11% of the population cannot fill all the vacancies available in a growing country 48 Million people+. Half these institutions mentioned above were non-existed during the previous regime thus none of these posts were ever filled.... @Spoof. The UFS is the first HEI in SA to offer an honours programme focused on police forensics as of the beginning of this year(2011). Thus the assertion that appropriately qualified individuals have been overlooked is a simple LIE, there has never been a degree programme to adequately meet those standards, and thus no-one can claim to have been sidelined. As you said there are n't people to work in them, you cant blame the police for individuals' choices.

      Sizwe - 2011-05-25 11:42


  • CapeTownJunk - 2011-05-24 20:26

    Fund science by taxing religion.

      Richard - 2011-05-24 20:42

      Fund science by using our taxes

      Spoofed - 2011-05-24 21:36

      That's brilliant...

      Pulverturm - 2011-05-24 22:20

      Awesome idea!

      zaatheist - 2011-05-25 05:28

      I think that ios a fantastic idea. Trouble is it will be a short term solution as educated people shun bronze age superstitions and the cults will lose their gullible tithers and there will be nothing left to tax.

      Lions Man - 2011-05-25 09:32

      zaatheist you seem to be very 'religious' in your convictions about being atheist. Good grief direct some of your energy to your job man. Unless of course you just a troll... By the way most of my Profs who are A grade scientists with PHD's from Cambridge (Head of Geosciences at Wits if you want to look it up, Prof Gibson, Prof Grab (Paleogeomorphology)) etc are also very religious, oh and i'm a Scientist. I hope you don't apply the same logic as that argument to your work/research because then clearly we can see why we have a problem... CT Junk the funding is there, it needs to be directed to the correct people, capable of producing top quality research.

  • JudithNkwe - 2011-05-24 20:40

    Perhaps a real academic culture needs to be nourished where excellence is recognised?

  • Jade - 2011-05-24 21:01

    I agree absolutely that South Africa is falling behind with regard to research. Our government should legalize cannabis (dagga) so that we can become world leaders in this up and coming area of research. Only now after decades of senseless prohibition are politicians and experts around the world starting to wake up to its many health benefits. This area has enormous potential to better the lives of millions around the globe and there is a pretty buck to be made for governments that wise up to this sooner rather than later. 16 states and Washington DC have already decriminalized marijuana for medical reasons along with the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Mexico, Peru, Argentina, Uruguay, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Finland, Israel and Canada. South Africa would be foolish not to jump on the bandwagon and reap the financial benefits especially given that our economy could use the hundreds if not thousands of jobs a viable medical marijuana industry would create.

  • Spyker May - 2011-05-24 21:22

    Ms Naledi Grace Mandisa Pandor, All the money in the world will not buy you a “knowledge-based economy”, as long as academia is a facade, the product of quotas and donating spurious qualifications for votes... Before you extend the ANC’s obligatory one cupped hand and the sword in the other, at the throat of the extorted taxpaying minority (from whom you got very, very few votes, btw), kindly explain what is happening about the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS)..? By the end of last year tens of millions have been poured into the ‘black hole’ that is the AIMS in Cape Town. The AIMS' "next Einstein initiative" is a collaborative programme by three South African universities (Cape Town, Stellenbosch and Western Cape) and three overseas academic institutions (Cambridge, Oxford and Paris Sud XI). Apart from masters' and doctoral programmes (in partnership with the six universities) it draws students from across Africa, offering a FREE (what a wonderful place Africa is...!!!), one-year postgraduate diploma in mathematical sciences. Only 13 South Africans have featured among the 305 graduates of AIMS’ flagship postgraduate diploma since 2003. In 2010 not A SINGLE South African enrolled in AIMS’ top-end postgraduate diploma (in mathematical sciences) as the sole local applicant FAILED to meet admission requirements..!! The candid reality is, each passing year in SA, bachelor’s are increasingly becoming a charade...

      Pulverturm - 2011-05-24 22:42

      I just read their Annual report for 2009-2010. Their one financial statement claims they spent just over R2000 on books in 2008 and nothing on books in 2009! In the same years they spent R380 000 and R407 000 on travel expenses respectively!! Can someone please explain this to me? Almost half a bar on travel and sweet FA on books?

      Sizwe - 2011-05-25 11:49

      In 2010 not A SINGLE South African enrolled in AIMS’ top-end postgraduate diploma (in mathematical sciences) as the sole local applicant FAILED to meet admission requirements..!! When you have answered your own question it seems rather foolish to still expect an answer. You may want to browse the academic websites to see who are the "majority" in academia. It seems you are blaming the wrong people....

  • Mike - 2011-05-24 21:56

    Naledi Grace Mandisa Pandor, singing all the right tunes once again. An idea not coupled with action will never get any bigger than the brain cell it occupied

  • croix - 2011-05-24 22:12

    R4.4bn Rand? And the poor kids cannot read or write properly?? You're a CHOPPETTE, Lady! You couldn't fix schools education - yet now you want BILLIONS to squander on 'HIGHER RESEARCH'?

  • Zakhele - 2011-05-24 22:36

    All the money goes to RDP houses and Child Grants.

      Jan - 2011-05-25 08:39

      And BIG SUV's, fancy parties, million Rand houses, the first ladies to name just a few....

  • Peter - 2011-05-25 05:28

    And if the students - who receive free education at university level - would actually attend class and have those drop out that fail the exams - which is the way it should be - then the knowledge base in South Africa could also be maintained. The action of students insisting on their 'failed brothers and sister' returning to the classroom merely serves to dumb down the masses and undermine the standards of our institutions of tertiary education.

      Sizwe - 2011-05-25 11:52

      While Im sure you have a credible source, the Institutions I have been to do not pass students based on consensus or boardroom politics, they work on scripts and memoranda, but then again thats just my Higher education experience I do not know about yours(assuming you have one of course)...

  • Academic - 2011-05-25 08:00

    Problem is that the DST (via TIA) and the NRF supply limited funding to capture the Intellectual Property of academics by means of IPR legislation.

  • Lisaman - 2011-05-25 09:01

    Naledi Pandor the Minister of Science and technology spent more money on world cup tickets than any other department. She did not do much for education when minister of education but managed to get rid of qualified teachers and put a whole lot of unskilled teachers in posts in a failed FET college environment and now she wants more money!! A wonder where all that money will go!!!

  • Lisaman - 2011-05-25 09:07

    She wants 200 million to expand access to the SA National Research Network (SANREN). Is SANREN not already on line. WOuld access by password on line by universities really cost 200 million. How is she trying to kid!!!

  • Lisaman - 2011-05-25 09:08

    WHO is she trying to kid!!

  • pages:
  • 1