The findings of a study into what is retarding the production of South African black women academics is imminent, Higher Education, Science and Technology Minister Blade Nzimande has announced, and he intends to make the results public.
Speaking during his portfolio’s budget vote in Parliament, Nzimande said its important to “open the much needed dialogue and debate on how to accelerate transformation in our academia and research communities in our universities.”
He acknowledged that a lot has been done, but added that there is also a clear need and urgency to significantly accelerate transformation in the racial and gender profile of our academic and research communities.
“Both curricula and the nature of research questions must be framed such that they help overcome patriarchy and racism in broader society, including in the very halls of academia and research,” Nzimande added.
Earlier, at a pre-budget media briefing, he spoke of progress towards setting up a fund that will ease the risk of bringing new technological innovations onto the market.
The fund would receive R1-billion per year for five years, with the aim of making these new business ventures more attractive for investors, Nzimande said.
“The fund is designed to largely de-risk the early stages of technology commercialisation and/or business development. An injection of R1-billion per year for five years is expected to make a significant impact in making these businesses more attractive to investors for significant scale-up,” he said.
“In this context, it is crucial that we ensure that the nation’s future science, technology and innovation paradigm is intimately connected with the principles of promoting public good, equality and inclusion,” he said.
Nzimande said the past decade has seen a significant increase in applications for intellectual property rights licences and in the number of start-ups coming out of the country’s higher education institutions.
He said his department planned to use its budget increase for the current financial year — up to R8.15-billion from R7.79-billion — to support new research and the development of new industries that could serve to beneficiate raw materials exported by South Africa.