A South African don, Prof. Daisy Selematsela, says adequate funding of research and development by South African Government is the secret behind the high ranking of some universities in the country.
Mrs Selematsela said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on the sidelines of an International Conference on Knowledge and Innovation Management organised by Babcock University, Ilishan – Remo, Ogun State.
The theme of the conference, holding from Jan. 14 to Jan. 18, is: “Stimulating a Culture of Knowledge Management and Innovation For Sustainable Development’’.
Mrs Selematsela, a professor information and knowledge management, University of Johannesburg, South Africa, said funds were provided by the government to support researchers to produce researches that address societal problems.
“In essence, researchers also ensure that the outputs they have are also published in highly ranked academic journals, thereby adding value to rankings of institutions in the country,’’ she said.
According to her, conducting researches and writing articles has legacy issues which entails understanding how to do it and having someone to coach on the process of writing a good research paper.
“Though universities in South Africa are highly ranked, it is not all of them; it is only the five top universities out of the 26 we have.
“Those five universities are those strongly supported by the previous government and they are still having those trajectories.
“That is why when the new government came into power, they ensured that resources are distributed according to the research areas of universities.
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“ They also ensured that the universities, after getting the funds, are instructed or guided in areas that they need support and mentorship to ensure that their outputs are addressing the inequalities and imbalance in the country,’’ she said.
According to her, the country also has an appreciable number of white researchers in its system but most of them are already ageing because they are near retirement age, which is between 60 and 65 years.
She said institutions, however, adopted a mechanism that once an ageing researcher was approaching 60 to 65 years, he or she is mandated to mentor a young researcher.
“The young researchers are mostly African researchers and will be mentored to produce what the aged researcher has been able to produce for life.
“That is our mechanism to ensure that there is sustainability with the funds that are being used,’’ she said.
Mrs Selematsela said that universities generally faced problem of shortage of seasoned researchers which is often referred to a state of researcher fatigue.
She said that as a result, one seasoned supervisory researcher would have about 15 to 20 young researchers to mentor, in spite of having to teach undergraduate students, so they just push out research papers without in-depth scrutiny.
“It is important for researchers to say `no’, I am not available because I cannot do this much.
“This problem is what we call researchers fatigue and that is why it seems like the student researchers were recycling researches,’’ she said.
According to her, it is better for institutions to relieve their researcher supervisors who are capable of handling postgraduate researchers from undergraduate studies to enable them focus.
“That is why in South Africa, we have academics or researchers that are only appointed to do researches.
“Some only teach professors while others teach researchers or professors who are focusing on conducting researches and not teaching any students,’’ she said.
NAN reports that no fewer than 500 foreign and local participants attended the conference which brought together academic and research scholars as well as educators and practitioners.
The conference exposed participants to contemporary issues in knowledge management, knowledge sharing and technological innovation, ecosystem, open and close innovation and creative thinking.