‘Education changed my life’
‘Education and modern technology have led to drastic changes in my life,’ says Nizibone Sakwe, one of the participants at the very first South Africa – Norway Science Week.
The conference took place in Pretoria and Cape Town and was organised by a number of Norwegian and South African partners. In focus was the marine industry and related fields, and what is known as the blue economy.
Motivate young people
‘I am here to see how we can initiate international cooperation on marine-related fields,’ explains Nizibone Sakwe, who is an adviser at South Africa's Department of Trade and Industry.
‘I want to motivate young people to study natural science and take an education in fields that are relevant to the marine sector. If we work together with education, we can generate interest in this field at an early stage of the educational pathway.’
Like Norway, South Africa is at the tip of a continent and there are important ocean currents off its coast. The conference showed that the countries face similar challenges in marine-related industry and that the transfer value is therefore high in this field.
South Africa’s Minister of Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor, was among the speakers at the conference. She stated that South Africa has a lot to learn from Norway with regard to the marine industry and that there is great potential for cooperation. She also emphasised that education, research and innovation are important elements in the work on solving global challenges.
‘We must establish international cooperation to find innovative solutions to the increasing demand for energy, food security and, not least, poverty,’ says the minister, who also made mention of Norway’s invaluable support in the campaign against apartheid.'
Fits the vision
Among the Norwegian participants at the conference was Johnny A Johannessen, researcher at the Nansen Center in Bergen and chair of the board of the Nansen-Tutu Centre for Marine Environmental Research at the University of Cape Town.
‘It is useful for us to see how the Research Council of Norway, Innovation Norway and SIU are at the forefront of this field here in South Africa. The topic of the conference fits well with the Nansen-Tutu Centre’s vision and commitment, where mobility, education and the supervision of students are important elements.'
Change, but how?
‘The lack of resources in schools is one of the greatest challenges in South Africa,’ explains Nizibone Sakwe. She comes from a less privileged area in the Eastern Cape province, and now she wants to help the local community she comes from.
‘I want to initiate a school project in the area. The goal is to promote maths and natural science and help the students to understand how this kind of knowledge can help them out of poverty. Children in the poorer areas would like to work for change, but they don’t know where to start.’
Sakwe herself has, among other things, a degree from the University of South Africa (UNISA), one of the world’s biggest open online universities with nearly 400,000 students from 130 countries.
‘Education and new technology have led to drastic changes in my life. Now, I want to motivate others so that they can also understand where an education can lead.’
South Africa – Norway Science Week was a collaboration between the Research Council of Norway, Innovation Norway, SIU, the Norwegian Embassy in Pretoria and South African partner organisations. The conference focused on marine industry and related fields and the blue economy. Read more about the conference here.