Canadian scientists were the perfect partners for their South African peers in physics and space exploration, and the two countries have only begun to scratch the surface of what they could share and achieve together.
This was the contention of David Johnston, Governor-General of Canada, in his keynote address at a recent UCT panel discussion on international education and science collaboration.
The panel was comprised of Dr Bernard Fanaroff, project director of SKA (Square Kilometre Array) SA; Professor Eugene Cloete, deputy vice-chancellor, Stellenbosch University; Professor Ramesh Baruthram, deputy vice-chancellor, University of the Western Cape; Dr Amit Chakma, chair, World University Service of Canada and president and vice-chancellor of the University of Western Ontario; and Paul Davidson, president, Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada. The Master of Ceremonies was UCT acting vice-chancellor, Professor Thandabantu Nhlapo.
Johnston said South African and Canadian schools should forge alliances so that their teachers, researchers and students could work, study, share and learn together, regardless of their disciplines.
â€œOnly then can our countries unleash the true power of the diplomacy of knowledge.â€
â€œOur two countries have already laid some valuable groundwork. Four Canadian universities have struck partnerships with schools, foundations and campaigns in South Africa. One of these South African partners is this wonderful place of learning, discovery and innovation – UCT.â€
Johnson invoked the words of Nelson Mandela that â€œa good head and a good heart are always a formidable combinationâ€, and said that like Mandela, he believed in â€œthe formidable power of keen minds and kind heartsâ€.
â€œLet's put our good heads and hearts together and uncover new insights about the vast expanses of space.â€
Chakma referred to a project called Grand Challenges Canada, which, he said, supported at least 11 projects in South Africa, most headed by South African scholars. Davidson told the panel one of the benefits of co-operation programmes between universities was that they gave students the opportunity to learn problem-solving and project-management skills.
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