Presidency Research Grants awarded to UKZN Academics
UKZN secured five grants from the Programme to Support Pro-Poor Policy Development (PSPPD Phase II), a partnership between the South African Presidency and the European Union under the programme: Addressing the Poverty and Inequality Challenge.
Three were secured under the NRF/DST-funded SARCHi Chair in Applied Poverty Reduction Assessment in the School of Built Environment and Development Studies (BEDS), the School of Education and the College of Health Sciences.
The DVC for Research, Professor Jonathan Blackledge, said: ‘It is a great achievement for UKZN to have secured such a prestigious set of grants through the partnership of the European Union and the South African Presidency. The grants represent a unique multi-disciplinary research programme in an area that is of fundamental importance.’
Also celebrating the milestone achievement for UKZN, DVC and Head of the College of Humanities, Professor Cheryl Potgieter, said, ‘As DVC of the College of Humanities, where most of successful grant holders are based, I congratulate them. The funding further assists our commitment to research, which informs policy and interventions. We thank the presidency for continuing to support the Humanities which at UKZN includes education.’
While College of Health Sciences Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Rob Slotow added, ‘The College of Health Sciences is also excited to receive the award which will allow us to strengthen our commitment to the people of KwaZulu-Natal in the delivery of high quality health care across the province that is underpinned by academic excellence. As this is a novel research study, we wish our colleagues much success in their attempt to produce ground-breaking relevant research in the African context.’
The first research grant of R1,170,000 is earmarked for a study on Climate Change Adaptation and Poverty Reduction Co-benefits: Human Capabilities Towards Green Micro-Enterprises. The project involves Professor Sarah Bracking, Dr Mvuselelo Ngcoya, Ms Kathleen Diga, Mr Siyabonga Ntombela, and Ms Thobile Lombo.
It was awarded in association with eThekwini Municipality under the current Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the council and UKZN.
‘We are delighted to be able to participate in the EU Poverty and Inequality Challenge programme of research managed through the Presidency,’ said Bracking. ‘This confirms that the University of KwaZulu-Natal is well positioned to influence national debate and policy and have a positive effect in improving the lives of disadvantaged persons in KwaZulu-Natal and beyond.’
The second grant of R1,1 million is for analysis of 2014 firm survey data, from the Greater Durban area, in order to contribute evidence to local, provincial and national policy for manufacturing firms to contribute to inclusive growth. The project is headed by Dr Glen Robbins and Dr Myriam Velia, also in association with the eThekwini Municipality.
Both grants will secure the employment of current research staff and will in turn provide new job opportunities for researchers within the SARCHi Chair and BEDS.
The third research grant will cover a study on: Informal Early Childhood Development (ECD) Centres - a new area-based approach for improved and up-scaled ECD services for the urban poor, as a partner to the Principal Investigator Project Preparation Trust (PPT) of KZN and in association with Training and Resources for Early Childhood Education (TREE), also based in Durban.
The R1million grant in the School of Education is for a study of Grade 9 mathematics ANA in selected KZN and Eastern Cape schools. It is headed by Professor Sarah Bansilal.
The grant of R1,44 million awarded to Health Sciences is the result of collaboration between the Disciplines of Audiology (Dr Neethie Joseph) and Otorhinolaryngology (Dr Yougan Saman). The study is titled the Amajuba Newborn Hearing Screen Programme. The total funding will be used for staff and equipment.
This programme will result in new-born babies in the Amajuba district of rural KwaZulu-Natal, where access to specialist health care is limited, being detected early for hearing loss. This is the first attempt in South Africa to develop a model for a district-wide Universal Newborn Hearing Screening Programme with the aim to inform policy nationally.
This type of research has significant implications for the management of hearing related disability in poor communities and is a step towards ensuring that children born deaf will attain the same opportunities and eventually lead normal lives and compete equally with their peers.