Prof Derick Blaauw was among a number of government, educational and non-governmental role-players invited by the National Planning Commission to attend a Roundtable Discussion on the Social Protection Floor and Cost of Living. The event formed part of a series of research engagements as part of the NDP’s focus to eradicate poverty by 2030. The event took place in Pretoria on the 8th of May 2017. The revised White Paper on Social Welfare as well as draft paper titled “Analysing the impact of State services on the cost of living for the poor” formed the basis of the discussion. The paper was prepared and presented by Dr. Neva Makgetla as a technical and policy discussion on research pertaining to issues that needs to be reviewed for improved standard of living and social protection. The discussion focused on the quality of life for the poor in South Africa in the context of promoting implementation of NDP.
In the latest issue of the South African Journal of Economics Derek Yu, Atoko Kasongo and Mariana Moses examine the performance of South African Economics departments over the period 2005 to 2014. They compare staff profiles, courses and the curriculum, as well as research activities. Whether you are a prospective student looking to join a good school, or an alumnus looking for bragging rights, it makes for an interesting read. So how does the NWU’s Potchefstroom campus measure up?
On the teaching side we have the same core modules that everyone is offering, like Macro, Micro, Public Economics, or Econometrics, but no niche modules like Game Theory, or Health Economics, or Economic History. The article missed our specialisations in International Trade and in Risk Management (4 modules each). And since the data were collected we also added the Agricultural economics programme. That is quite a bit of variety.
On the research side we are punching above our weight. For a relatively small group of staff members we are well qualified and publishing articles. We were 16 full time academics when Derek collected the data (compared to 23 at UP, 30 at Stellenbosch, and 38 at UCT) and 11 of the 16 had PhDs. Currently we are 19 when you add the agricultural economists and all three have PhDs. We have also added one more NRF rating for a total of 4 rated researchers. In terms of research output per capita per annum we ranked 5th, just after Stellenbosch and just before UJ.
Writing as the School director, I have to say that a result like this humbles me. I am thankful for the hard work of a dedicated team. Keep up the good work everyone!