Sol Plaatje University is one step closer to realising its research and education focus on rural development issues in the Northern Cape region, following the confirmation that it has been granted land by the Northern Province Government.
In announcing the development, Vice-Chancellor and Principal Prof Yunus Ballim says that the University was recently informed by the MEC in the Provincial Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development that approximately 24 hectares on their research farm outside of Carnarvon had been approved as a grant to SPU to establish the SPU Knowledge Hub for Rural Development (SPU-KHRD).
The land area is situated about 80kms from the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) site and is adjacent to the SKA administrative offices and farm research management facilities.
The SPU-KHRD will focus on six focus areas that are expected to lead to evidence-based social and economic development opportunities for the greater Carnarvon area.
The current focus areas are:
- data science
- agriculture under water-stressed conditions
- climate change
- teacher education and rural school development
- rural public health (in partnership with Stellenbosch University)
- science-based tourism.
Knowledge and data from these focus areas will be synthesised at the SPU-KHRD as the evidence base for policy development by the provincial and national government.
“In the medium term, the University envisages that its facility will be able to accommodate the management staff, with accommodation for around 50 students, researchers and visitors, a teaching and seminar venue and basic life science laboratory,” says Ballim.
He says that this is an important development for SPU as it expresses “our commitment to ensuring that our academic efforts find real expression in social development in the region”.