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!
During the April recess Prof Derick Blaauw was part of a multidisciplinary research team doing fieldwork in Cape Town as part of a national study of day labouring in South Africa.
The team consisting of Derick and Professor Rinie Schenck of the Department of Social Work at the University of the Western Cape met the 11 fieldworkers on Monday 3 April 2017 at the UWC Campus for a day of fieldworker training. The fieldworkers were all recruited from graduates of the University of the Western Cape’s Social Work Department. The fieldworkers were carefully selected to accommodate all the languages expected to be encountered on the streets of the Mother City. The training was preceded by two weeks of recognizance by Prof Schenck and Ms Iris Brown to confirm existing and identifying possible new hiring sites. The next step was to execute the operation. Two kombis was used as transport and the team met up at the UWC Campus on Tuesday 4 March. What followed was six days of early mornings (getting up at five o’clock) and long hours on the streets interviewing day labourers trying to make a living from informal employment. The fieldwork went well and 450 interviews were conducted. The fieldworkers were debriefed and valuable time was spent reflecting on the shared experiences of the fieldworkers. This type of research does not leave anybody untouched.
UJ’s Department of Economics and Econometrics held their annual prize giving function on Friday 31 March 2017. At the function Anmar Pretorius received an award as the first placed PhD student from all students graduating in the department in 2016. In the photograph Anmar is joined by colleagues from UJ: Prof Joel Hinaunye Eita and Dr Kwame Osei-Assibey. The function took place at the Johannesburg Country Club with Dr Melanie van Rooy, Marketing director of Makro SA, as the guest speaker. Her presentation offered very interesting insights into the analysis and use of big data in planning marketing strategies.