The role of STI indicators in monitoring SA's inclusive socio-economic development

NATIONAL ADVISORY COUNCIL ON INNOVATION (NACI) ROADSHOW
06 OCTOBER 2017


On the 6 October 2017, the HSRC hosted the KwaZulu Natal Provincial Roadshow on behalf of the National Advisory Council on Innovation (NACI). The event was well attended and the theme was the role of science, technology and innovation (STI) indicators in monitoring South Africa’s inclusive socio-economic development. The STI indicators report was firstly presented by Dr Azar Jammine, Chief Economist. Using statistics from databases such as StatsSA, SESTI, and the Worldbank, Dr Jammine discussed how the goal of re-industrialisation in South Africa has not in fact been met and may rather be a de-industrialisation. He highlighted important factors that need to be remedied such as the shortage of individuals with science, technology, engineering, and mathematics skills and the failure of the National System of Innovation (NSI) to improve poverty rates. Naturally, his presentation sparked a lively debate regarding issues of taxing investments, renewable energy opportunities and their stagnation, digital currency, the mind-set of businesses within South Africa where research results are expected to be freely available, and the poor support of small business in their innovations by the financial sector. The STI indicators report can be downloaded from this shortened url: https://goo.gl/uLvbrD.

The next two presentations were delivered before further questions were posed. Dr Vijay Reddy, Executive Director of the Education and Skills Development (ESD) programme at the HSRC, delivered a thought-provoking presentation using data from the most recent Trends in Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) conducted in 2015. TIMSS is an international assessment of Mathematics and Science achievement in both Grade 4 and Grade 8 learners and allows comparison of educational achievement across borders. In her presentation, Dr Reddy explored the role that school Mathematics plays in the majority of employment fields either implicitly or explicitly. Dr Reddy also discussed factors which impact learner achievement, such as having a flush toilet within the home, but explained that it is not the factor as such but rather its ability to act as a proxy measurement of concepts such as socioeconomic status. Reports and other documents regarding TIMSS in South Africa can be obtained from timss-sa.org.za. The third presentation was provided by the KZN Office of the Premier and discussed implementation of Kwazulu-Natal Provincial Growth and Development lay (PGDP). This presentation took the audience through each goal set within the PGDP regarding the target and its actual achievement. Both presentations were applauded for their use of current data which provided a snapshot of the current landscape within South Africa and it was noted that the TIMSS data provided a precise, quantified manner of low achievement reasons. Again, the lack of experts such as engineers was discussed as well as other topics such as relocation and emigration.

The roadshow concluded with a presentation of the National Science Technology and Innovation Information Portal (NSTIIP) developed by NACI partnered by the Department of Science and Technology (DST). This portal makes use of developments in information technology to collect and curate innovation-related data and information about the NSI to an easily accessible central repository. Thus far, data has been provided by the Centre of Science, Technology and Innovation Indicators (CESTII) at the HSRC and the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) through the DST. It is recommended that interested individuals visit the portal at http://www.naci.org.za/nstiip. Further information can also be obtained from the NACI Secretariat at naci@dst.gov.za or 012 844 0925.

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