DURBAN UNIVERSITY OF TECHNOLOGY TO INGAGE IN THINK TANK PROJECTS
By Winston Sibanda
The Durban University of Technology began discussions to collaborate with the Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection (MISTRA) yesterday.
This is according said to DUT vice chancellor Professor Ahmed Bawa, who was during a public lecture co-hosted by the institution and the Gandhi Development Trust. The lecture took place at the institution’s Hotel School last night. Director of operations of the Mapungubwe Institute, Abba Omar was the main speaker.
According to Omar, MISTRA has shown great interest in developing the think tank mentality within South Africa.
Omar said, “We are engaging in talks with the department of education so that the think tank concept can become a co-curricular within high schools. That is where students should start engaging in intellectual discussions”.
According to Bawa, one of South Africa’s biggest challenges was to build an intellectual culture. He said the idea of a think tank has been largely associated with western countries and this has destroyed intellectual growth within Africa. Bawa also highlighted that the institution has begun talks with MISTRA to collaborate and work together in some of the think tank projects.
Bawa showed great interest in the MISTRA projects.
He said, “There is an overlap between projects at DUT and the think tank, so the collaboration will groom an intellectual culture”.
According to Omar’s, MISTRA was initiated in 2010. Over the past three years it has been ranked within the top ten global think tanks. He said the institute’s main objective is to provide research with evidence. Currently the Mapungubwe Institute has three main aspects it focuses on: political economy, humanity and science.
According to research conducted by the institute, Africa is lacking when it comes to think tanks. Omar said this is a sign that shows that the continent still lacks intellectual dialogue. He said one of the aims of the institute is to create an environment where people can share information freely. Currently MISTRA conducts discussions through round tables and lectures.
MISTRA has received great support globally. Its board of governors consists of high profile people within the intellectual sphere. Its board includes Sibusiso Vil-Nkomo the deputy vice chancellor of University of Pretoria and Thandi Ndlovu who won the business man of the year last year among other politicians.
Omar said, “We have engaged influential people as part of our governors, this has helped us over the years to access any type of information we need for our research projects.”
Omar urged business people to contribute towards the funding of projects. He said the institution has grown rapidly within its three years of existence and its growth requires more funds to ensure that research is conducted smoothly.
The lecture ended on a high note with the audience interacting with Omar through the question and answer period. Professor Bawa handed over a doll which was symbolic to the cultural diversity of South Africa to Omar as a symbol of gratitude from DUT.