The Evolution of the South African Science, Technology and Innovation System 1994-2009: An Exploration
Marais, Hendrik C.
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This paper is part of a longitudinal project on the evolution of the South African science, technology and innovation (STI) system since 1994, the year that marked the end of apartheid government. Given that the overarching national (and international) commitment of the post-1994 government has throughout been the normalisation and correcting of past discrimination, it was hypothesised that changes to the STI system would entail reforming it to become an inclusive system by changing the three pillars of the STI system, viz. national objectives, the human resource composition (race and gender equity) and steering/control mechanisms. The primary level of analysis focussed on initiatives (including allocation of resources) of the Ministry of Science and Technology, with cross-references to developments in two other ministries also involved in the STI system, viz. (Higher) Education and Trade and Industry. The analyses showed, firstly, that the core STI missions were changed substantially over time. Secondly, extensive transformation has been brought about on the human resource dimension in terms of both race and gender equity, although the gender distribution remains skewed at management level. Thirdly, the government has introduced a range of new steering mechanisms and significantly tightened its control on both public universities and research institutions. The paper concludes by identifying four imminent challenges confronting the STI system, viz. the distribution of public financial support; finding the balance between advanced postgraduate studies and professional/technical training/skilling of unemployed youth; proving the benefits of STI for improving the lot of the still very large deprived section of the population; and improving the country's international competitiveness.