Education in brief

Rural e-research
Higher Education South Africa has welcomed Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor’s intention to draw all rural universities into the South African National Research Network. It is an e-research collaboration that the country’s leading research universities and other institutions already enjoy.

Her initiative is “important in laying a foundation for increased investment in science and innovation that is necessary for attracting and retaining excellence in research and innovation in South African universities”, said Professor Ahmed Bawa, chairperson of Higher Education South Africa.

Bawa was responding in a statement to Pandor’s budget-vote speech on Tuesday in which she told Parliament she had allocated R78-million to wire up all the country’s rural universities.

“At many universities, the availability and quality of research infrastructure, facilities and equipment, including broadband connectivity, is a constraint on the production of doctoral graduates and research and innovation outputs,” Bawa said.
The establishment by the minister of 25 post-doctoral fellowships each year, worth R180 000 a year each for three years, drew further admiration from the vice-chancellors’ organisation, as did her commitment to “a national body on science and technology policy”, Bawa said.

A first for women
Navanethem Pillay this week became the first woman to receive a University of Venda honorary doctorate. “Dr Pillay is an outstanding lawyer and a remarkable, committed person in pursuit of justice throughout her life,” said university spokesperson Takalani Dzaga. “After the first democratic elections in South Africa, Pillay was appointed acting judge,” Dzaga said, announcing that the university had awarded her an honorary doctorate in law at a graduation ceremony on Thursday.

In 1995 the United Nations General Assembly appointed her as a judge of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda for a four-year term. It was renewed in 1999. Four years ago she became the United Nations high commissioner for human rights.

“Pillay defended many opponents of apartheid, members of the ANC, Azapo and Black Consciousness Movement, including Saths Cooper and Strini Moodley, the Unity Movement, the PAC and Swapo,” Dzaga said.

Pillay is a co-author of the book Principles of International Criminal Law.

“The University of Venda feel honoured to be associated with the woman who fought for the people’s rights, women’s rights in particular, and a leader in human rights issues,” Dzaga said.

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