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23 October 2019
UWC Research & Innovation Week 2019: Partnering For Development, Making Research Count

(Published - 23 October 2019)

The University of the Western Cape (UWC) is hosting its annual Research and Innovation Week from 22 to 24 October 2019, celebrating research that counts. This year’s theme is Actioning Heritage for Local Relevance, Regional Impact and Global Recognition.

Opening the conference on Tuesday, Professor Josè Frantz, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research & Innovation, highlighted the importance of cultural participation in research.

“Cultural participation in research can contribute to empowering and promoting the inclusion of all people, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion and economic status,” said Prof Frantz.

“Artists and creative professionals can be involved in the design and presentation of narratives which give voice to developing countries. All approaches to issues such as migration should include a cultural dimension and intercultural dialogue.”

Researchers from across the University are discussing their work and issues related to South Africa’s National Development Plan, which serves as a blueprint for how the country can reduce inequality and abolish poverty by 2030.

The core elements of a decent standard of living identified in the NDP includes quality education, social protection and even recreation and leisure.

“We as an institution were never meant to be a research-intensive led teaching and learning university, never meant to learn the mysteries of the universe, seek answers to poverty and hunger or examine the complex relationship between the technical and the human or understand how culture will be impacted by the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” said Prof Frantz.

UWC has achieved many research milestones, including:

  • Growing its SARChI Chairs from one in 2008 to 18 in 2019;
  • Steadily increasing its NRF-rated researcher base;
  • Being awarded the Flagship on Critical Thought on African Humanities; and,
  • Becoming the first Historically Disadvantaged Institution to host a Centre of Excellence - the Centre of Excellence in Food Security.

On the first day of the conference, Professor Brian O’Connell and a team of top-notch UWC researchers - including Professor Rouaan Maarman, Professor Juliana Smith, Professor Bhekumusa Khuzwayo and Dr Elizabeth Archer - discussed their work on developing a resource to create youth awareness of the NDP. The team conducted an extensive survey of more than 50 000 Grade 12 learners in the Western Cape. Only 6% of the learners surveyed had some knowledge of the NDP.

Previously, UWC Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Tyrone Pretorius described this study as “the first step in UWC’s intention to provide intellectual support to the endeavour of making the NDP a living document for a path of prosperity for our country''.