‘SA must not lag be­hind in 4IR’

More fund­ing will be sought to bol­ster the na­tion’s fourth in­dus­trial revo­lu­tion goals, says Pan­dor

The Sunday Independent - - METRO - | LESEGO MAKGATHO ED­WIN NAIDU


OLYMPIC gold medal­list and Com­mon­wealth Games cham­pion Caster Semenya has spo­ken out about the chal­lenges she faced on her way to the top. Speak­ing at the Dis­cov­ery Lead­er­ship Sum­mit 2018 in Sand­ton, Joburg, Semenya said chal­leng­ing the In­ter­na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Ath­let­ics Fed­er­a­tions (IAAF) was not about her, but for aspir­ing ath­letes who want to run and make a suc­cess out of their ca­reers. The IAAF in April in­tro­duced new reg­u­la­tions for ath­letes who com­pete in events rang­ing from the 400m to 1 mile, which hap­pen to be Semenya’s spe­cial­i­ties. This, said the IAAF, was to reg­u­late women who nat­u­rally pro­duce testos­terone lev­els above five nanomoles per litre of blood. “To be hon­est, this is not about me. I’ve achieved ev­ery­thing I want to achieve in life… I was sit­ting at home think­ing I can’t let this thing go on. What about the next gen­er­a­tion? It is killing them,” she said.

“What about those young girls who still want to run and are in the same sit­u­a­tion as I am? That means their dreams are shat­tered. Some­one needs to do some­thing about this. “So I told my team we need to fight this thing. Enough is enough. It’s been a long time I’ve let these peo­ple com­mand. Now it’s about us. “I’m a very tal­ented ath­lete... I want to show them that what they are do­ing does not make sense.” MIN­IS­TER of Higher Ed­u­ca­tion and Train­ing Naledi Pan­dor said she would soon be ask­ing the Na­tional Trea­sury for more fund­ing – and set­ting up a min­is­te­rial com­mit­tee – to en­sure South Africa does not lag be­hind in the fourth in­dus­trial revo­lu­tion (4IR) race.

This is in ad­di­tion to her an­nounce­ment at a re­cent BRICS 2018 Fu­ture Skills Chal­lenge in Midrand that tech­ni­cal and vo­ca­tional ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing would get a R2.5 bil­lion boost to equip it with 4IR skills.

At the clos­ing cer­e­mony Pan­dor said, in or­der to en­sure 4IR suc­cess, co-op­er­a­tion among BRICS na­tions – Brazil, Rus­sia, In­dia, China and South Africa – was vi­tal to im­prove skills, strengthen aca­demic ties and en­hance stu­dent mo­bil­ity.

A shar­ing of knowl­edge, re­search and in­no­va­tion be­tween aca­demics in BRICS coun­tries could strengthen in­te­gra­tion, she added.

“If uni­ver­si­ties in BRICS col­lab­o­rate suc­cess­fully on re­search and teach­ing in stu­dent and staff ex­changes, we can make a sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tion to global knowl­edge.”

She said that the BRICS Net­work Uni­ver­sity was an ed­u­ca­tion project un­der­pinned by the 4IR, which had ma­jor im­pli­ca­tions for busi­ness and ed­u­ca­tion.

BRICS Net­work Uni­ver­sity is a group of 60 higher ed­u­ca­tion in­sti­tu­tions from mem­ber coun­tries – 12 from each of the five BRICS coun­tries – es­tab­lished by BRICS ed­u­ca­tion min­is­ters to en­gage in ed­u­ca­tional and re­search ini­tia­tives across themes that in­clude: uni­ver­sity link­ages and higher ed­u­ca­tion mo­bil­ity; tech­ni­cal and vo­ca­tional ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing (TVET) ex­changes; and shar­ing of ed­u­ca­tion sta­tis­tics and learn­ing as­sess­ment ex­pe­ri­ences.

“We’re in the age of the per­va­sive in­flu­ence of emerg­ing tech­nolo­gies and ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence and need re­spon­sive skills and a de­vel­op­ment re­search fo­cus and in­vest­ment to ben­e­fit fully. Through its re­search part­ner­ships, the BRICS Net­work Uni­ver­sity can help re­duce the poverty, unem­ploy­ment and in­equal­ity that char­ac­terise many coun­tries in the de­vel­op­ing world,” Pan­dor said.

It is cru­cial that South Africa in­tro­duce these 4IR skills as two-thirds of the chil­dren at pri­mary school to­day are likely to end up work­ing in jobs that are not in ex­is­tence to­day.

While she praised uni­ver­si­ties for de­vel­op­ing 4IR skills, Pan­dor said much still had to be done to equip the coun­try’s tech­ni­cal and vo­ca­tional ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing col­leges with re­lated in­fra­struc­ture. En­sur­ing that schools, col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties pre­pared ad­e­quately for the 4IR was a crit­i­cal re­quire­ment, she said.

Pan­dor said she would ap­point a min­is­te­rial com­mit­tee to ad­dress 4IR con­cerns. “Its re­mit will be to as­sess what is be­ing done at dif­fer­ent uni­ver­si­ties in the coun­try and then to ad­vise as to what my de­part­ment should do to put us on a good edge in terms of par­tic­i­pa­tion in the dig­i­tal revo­lu­tion.”

She added that it was high on her agenda to pro­vide the in­fra­struc­ture to bring col­leges up to speed, so they could re­spond to the de­mands of new tech­nol­ogy and con­trib­ute to em­ploy­ment cre­ation and en­ter­prise de­vel­op­ment in South Africa – but not all of her ef­forts would re­quire fund­ing, as she sought to draw on the ex­ist­ing ex­pe­ri­ence of in­sti­tu­tions in this area.

The min­is­ter added that the chal­lenges were not in­sur­mount­able and she was im­pressed at the steps be­ing taken to en­sure that South Africans were join­ing the dig­i­tal in­no­va­tion race.

“The Gaut­eng De­part­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion’s in­tro­duc­tion of tech­nol­ogy to all schools has been a re­ally bold step. We should en­cour­age more prov­inces to do so. An older ini­tia­tive in the Western Cape has also had a pos­i­tive im­pact. All our uni­ver­si­ties are do­ing more, boast­ing dig­i­tal fa­cil­i­ties in li­braries, and wire­less is be­ing used widely; cer­tainly, they’re ahead of col­leges,” she said.

Com­ment­ing on the BRICS 2018 Fu­ture Skills Chal­lenge, Pan­dor said it was a unique ini­tia­tive, en­abling co-op­er­a­tion among the youth, through BRICS, to find so­lu­tions to chal­lenges: “The fo­cus on fu­ture skills dif­fer­en­ti­ates this skills chal­lenge from all other ex­ist­ing in­ter­na­tional skills chal­lenges and com­pe­ti­tions”.

This ar­ti­cle first ap­peared on the web­site www.uni­ver­si­ty­world­news. com

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