Science not just for the elite, says Pandor

2016-04-19 21:09
Home affairs minister Naledi Pandor addresses a weekly press conference in Pretoria. Picture: Muntu Vilakazi

Home affairs minister Naledi Pandor addresses a weekly press conference in Pretoria. Picture: Muntu Vilakazi

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Cape Town – Poor black people must stop thinking science was only for the elite and therefore out of bounds, Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor said in Parliament on Tuesday.

"I used to think astronomy was for the elite. I thought, we, the poor, were not supposed to touch it," said Pandor during a debate in the National Assembly on the department's budget for 2016/17.

"We must stop [thinking] that as blacks we are not supposed to be in the science arena," she said. "We mustn't think that we are for agriculture only, [and] we are not for science.

"I disagree with that. We are going to do science of a very high standard for our people."

Pandor was speaking at the end of the debate at Parliament on the R7.4bn set aside for the department.

Pandor and opposition MPs were concerned the department's budget did not change significantly from last year, yet it was expected to keep abreast of innovations in global research and development.

Not a luxury

DA MP, Anneline Lottriet, said the department's budget was reduced from R7.48bn for 2015/16 to R7.42bn for 2016/17 – a decrease of 6.8%.

Science and technology couldn't be seen as a luxury, she said. It was one of the most important drivers of economic growth and should be in the same league budget-wise as the department of health.

"This should let the alarm bells ring – we can't fall behind on scientific and technological innovation," Lottriet said.

Earlier, Pandor said the "padding" from other departments should be reprioritised for the department that wanted to use science and technology to solve pressing socio-economic problems.

Economic Freedom Fighters MP, Nazier Paulsen, said the party would rectify this if it was in charge by establishing high tech computer laboratories in municipalities and free wifi.

Paulsen said it was also incomprehensible that the sciences in South Africa were still strongly dominated by white men in.

"Minister Pandor, you should focus less on defending [President] Jacob Zuma and more on building your department," he said.

Read more on:    naledi pandor  |  parliament 2016  |  politics

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