Mathematicians denounce SA xenophobia
by MTHULISI SIBANDA
CAPE TOWN, (CAJ News) – THE African Institute for Mathematical Science (AIMS) has condemned recent attacks on foreign nationals in South Africa.
The organisation said the xenophobia had caused irreparable damage to the country.
AIMS founder, Professor Neil Turok, said he was deeply shocked and saddened by the recent violence.
“It is clear that there are deeper socio-economic catalysts that have brought South Africa to this point. A motivating factor for the foundation of AIMS was to address these issues by creating an environment in which Africa’s brightest students can become innovators who propel scientific, education and economic self-sufficiency.
“If we focus on the solutions, we can move not only South Africa but the continent forward towards sustainable prosperity and avoid conflict that leads to irreparable damage such as loss of life,” Turok said.
The condemnation follows similar sentiments by Department of Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor.
“Without the experience and expertise of these esteemed colleagues (from other African countries), who also fulfill the valuable role of mentors and guides to young South Africans, science and technology in our country would be very much the poorer.
“Let us also not forget that during their exile from South Africa, due to the denial of access to education opportunities by the apartheid regime, many South African scientists benefited from training and education in other African states,” Pandor said.
The ongoing xenophobic violence in South Africa erupted in certain parts of Durban two weeks ago, and then spread to other parts of the country, including the Johannesburg CBD.
Seven people are reported to have been killed with more than 2 000 others displaced from their homes.
The violence has been attributed to various historical, social and economic factors- with key drivers being poverty, unemployment and poor access to education, leaving migrants and the poorest South Africans competing for scarce jobs to make a menial living.
AIMS is first pan-African network of centres of excellence, which established its first centre in 2003 in Cape Town, provides innovative training and research opportunities in mathematical sciences to brilliant students from across Africa.
Since its inception, AIMS’ objective has been to enable Africa’s youth to shape the continent’s future through Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) education.
The organisation, which has centres in South Africa, Ghana, Senegal, Cameroon and Tanzania, offers Master’s coursework in mathematical sciences and is focused on scientific training, cutting-edge research and public engagement.
“We believe that many of the socio-economic stress factors that lead to conflict in Africa stem from insufficient investment in education and skills training,” said Thierry Zomahoun, President and CEO of AIMS.
“At AIMS, we embrace a spirit of pan-Africanism, where students from across Africa work together in a 24-hour live-work environment focused on applied solutions to development and globalchallenges.
” In this environment, our students also embrace tolerance, which curbs any stereotypical misconceptions the students may have about each other, and fosters friendship and collaboration- key elements for individual, national and continental growth,”.
AIMS has produced 748 mathematical scientists from 42 African countries including 240 women.
– CAJ News
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