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Strengthening South African-Dutch education & research relations

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On 30 January 2020, the first ever South Africa-Netherlands Education & Research dialogue took place to strengthen existing partnerships and explore strategies for intensified collaboration in the future.
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The event in The Hague was attended by more than 70 South African and Dutch partners from higher education and research institutions.

The keynote speaker of the day was South African Ambassador-Designate Vusi Madonsela, who made his first public appearance after his arrival in the Netherlands. In his address he emphasised the importance of the collaboration in education and research in the South African-Dutch bilateral relations. He further expressed that the bilateral and multilateral cooperation in education and research is an excellent example of international partnerships under SDG 17, as our joint efforts seek to support and achieve the ambitious targets of the 2030 Agenda.

The South Africa-Netherlands Education & Research dialogue is an initiative of the National Research Foundation of South Africa (NRF), the Dutch Research Council (NWO), and the Dutch organisation for internationalisation in education (Nuffic).

“Through this dialogue we aim to strengthen sustainable institutional cooperation, building on a rich history of knowledge engagement”

Strengthening South African-Dutch ties

Dr. Aldo Stroebel, Executive Director Strategic Partnerships of the NRF said: “Through this dialogue we aim to strengthen sustainable institutional cooperation between Dutch and South African universities in research and education, building on a rich history of knowledge engagement. Furthermore, and aligned with the NRF’s Global Knowledge Partnerships strategy, we aim to support the development of a critical mass of globally competitive early career researchers in South Africa in priority research areas.”

Joint research

South Africa and the Netherlands have a strong tradition of joint research programmes, stimulating sustainable collaboration of excellent researchers. Cooperating partners NWO –via the recently established Merian Fund– and NRF jointly agreed that a focus on the Water, Energy and Food nexus has great potential to add value to the South African-Dutch cooperation. It would enhance synergy in achieving multiple, and sometimes contradictory goals, under the SDG agenda, which is a challenging but important potential contribution of research. “If research aims to contribute to the WEF nexus, we need a collaboration of all relevant stakeholders in systematic long-term research”, according to Prof. Annelies Zoomers, chair of the Merian Fund steering committee.

South Africa and the Netherlands have a strong tradition of joint research programmes, stimulating sustainable collaboration of excellent researchers.

Education collaboration

In the discussions on education collaboration there was focus on societal needs and inclusion of partners from government, business and society in quadruple helix models. Furthermore, the growing emphasis on multilateral collaboration between South African and Dutch partners with institutions from other European and African countries was a central theme.

Freddy Weima, director general of Nuffic stated: “We are pleased to facilitate the continuous dialogue between higher education and research institutions from South Africa and the Netherlands. Through our Orange Knowledge Programme, the NRF-Nuffic doctoral training programme, and our Neso office in Pretoria, we aim to bring the collaboration to the next level. Events like today help partners to further stimulate South African-Dutch education relations for example by discussing innovative approaches to internationalisation, like a living lab around the theme of resilient cities that is currently being developed.”

The next South Africa-Netherlands Education & Research dialogue will take place in the second half of 2020 in South Africa.

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