Science and technology need attention

WITHIN a period of three weeks Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor has been a keynote speaker at three award ceremonies related to science and technology.

This could easily be dismissed as just what ministers do best - cutting red ribbons - but in a developing country such as ours these awards point to the ever-improving growth of the science, engineering, technology and innovation fields.

This should be applauded if South Africa is to realise Pandor's vision of becoming a knowledge-based economy one day.

Also encouraging about these ceremonies was seeing a handful of black female scientists receiving awards for their outstanding work in various fields.

Pandor has always been unhappy about the lack of representation by black females.

It must be said, though, that there are still very few Africans - blacks in particular - and females, who are recognised in this field.

The slow pace of transformation in the sector is an issue that Pandor is losing sleep over. In her address to the National Science, Technology and Innovation awards ceremony this week she made it clear that unless institutions begin to show significant shifts towards transformation they had no reason to celebrate.

Pandor said: "The need is so immense that we must double our efforts. The need to alter the profile of able researchers is so urgent that no institution should celebrate until there are significant shifts."

We must demand transformation in science and technology during our lifetime. Rolling up our sleeves and helping the government improve our education system is just one of many things we have to do urgently.

Lunga Ngqengelele, Centurion