The head office of the Department of Science
and Technology is housed in a new-age glass building on the grounds of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research in Pretoria.
The CSIR is an important part of the work done by the Department as it seeks to implement the goals of the National Development Plan.
The DST has set itself the goal of producing more doctoral graduates, promoting innovation and providing opportunities for small- and medium-sized businesses to embrace technology,
NEXT-GENERATION HUMAN said the former Minister of Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor, in an interview in her office in South Africa’s capital.
Pandor, who was appointed Higher Education Minister after the interview, said her department was making progress in implementing the National Development Plan.
“We’ve taken the NDP very seriously as the Department of Science and Technology.
We have incorporated it into our long-term strategic plans and our annual performance plan.
The key focus area is human capital development, especially expanding our PhD programme, because we were given a very tough objective of 6 000 PhDs annually by 2030.
“We currently produce around 2 430 annually and we want to significantly increase that number.
Working with the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET), we’ve begun to implement a set of interventions that will help us to meet these objectives.
“Fortunately, just before the crisis of the economy got worse, we got some improved funding for PhD grants.
We’ve also increased the number of grants available for post-doctoral candidates because,
NEXT-GENERATION HUMAN if we are to achieve the numbers set by the NDP we need to increase the supervisory capacity.
The post-docs are the potential supervisors of the increased numbers of PhD students.
The DHET began a national programme for the next generation of academics.
It’s called NGAP (Next Generation of Academics Programme).
“It is trying to respond in terms of the NDP to the objective that over 60% of academics in higher education should have a PhD by 2030.
The NGAP provides funding for universities to allow lecturers who do not have
PhDs to have time off to pursue a PhD on an almost full-time basis.
We have put some funding towards that. It is a good programme because then you’re improving
the potential pool of academics within higher education but also, you’re allowing people to stay as lecturers
and have someone replace them in terms of teaching time while they pursue their PhDs on a fuller-time basis.
Part of the problem with the PhD is that people stop because it is a lot of work.
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