AAUN - Meaningful, relevant and focussed research
6 April 2014 - Pretoria
The ambitious youth population in Africa combined with innovative information and communication technology and the Australia Africa Universities Network (AAUN) is a potent formula to trigger the quantum leap in Africa’s development.
The aim of the recent AAUN Forum and Steering Group Meeting held at the University of Pretoria (UP) in South Africa on 5-6 April 2014 was to create a proactive network for higher education institutes of Australia and Africa.
Co-chairs of the event, Vice Chancellor Cheryl de la Rey of UP and Chief Executive John Hearn of Worldwide Universities Network (WUN), emphasized the need for meaningful, relevant and results-focussed research in core projects that would draw the attention of funding institutes, agencies and the private sector.
Creating greater awareness of the prominent role universities play in society and in communities was a key discussion point of the forum. Effective communication and strategically targeted marketing campaigns can innovatively share the knowledge produced with the people who tend to be isolated from academia. This is vital in refreshing the perception of higher learning institutes.
The fact that institutes do not create partnerships but that people do, was another significant message expressed at the forum. Face to face interactions between the various role-players including academia, government, business, youth and others will build strong and viable networks.
The link between education and poverty should not lead to the mass production of ‘corporate drones’ whose only motivation for getting an education is the material and economic benefit at the expense of vocation and the passion for learning.
This aspiration, material or vocational has an influence on policy. It exposes a paradox in politics that suggest that electioneering requires a problem to be solved or an issue to be addressed. If there are no issues or problems, politicking and electioneering are rendered useless.
Besides education and policy development, research proposals were also presented in the fields of public sector reform, food security, public health and mining.
High Commissioner Graeme Wilson of Australia to South Africa was pleased at the strong alignment between the objectives of the AAUN and the Australian Government in Africa. He said that the AAUN is helping to build people-to-people links and education links between the two regions.