Pretoria: The establishment of the Sol Plaatje University is a significant milestone for the expansion of knowledge and skills, which will contribute towards a modern economy in the Northern Cape.
“This is a first for our province and we are excited by the first intake of students this year,” Premier Sylvia Lucas told Members of the Provincial Legislature during her State of the Province Address in Kimberly on Friday.
The premier said the influx of learners and top academics from other provinces and neighbouring countries would also benefit the province enormously.
The establishment of the university also presented enormous business and economic development opportunities.
“In the medium to long term, research output from the university stands to benefit not only the province but the country at large,” Premier Lucas said.
Classes at the university began on Monday this week, with the first 141 students enrolled for academic programmes in Education, Retail Management and Information Technology.
The premier said from 1994 to 2013, the provincial government had built a total of 23 new public schools from and two hostels for learner accommodation.
She said notable among these was a special needs school with hostels in Mothibistad in Kuruman.
“Through the Education Infrastructure Grant, we also managed to build a total of 296 classrooms as additions to existing schools as and when they experienced increased learner numbers.
“The current 2014/15 financial year will see the building of another six new public schools and in the outer-year of 2015/16, the building of a mega school with a mega hostel in Joe Morolong, at estimated cost of R100 million,” Premier Lucas said.
The province is home to the important scientific facility, namely the Southern Africa Large Telescope (SALT), located near Sutherland.
This is the largest facility of its type in the southern hemisphere and one of the top 10 in the world. SALT allows astronomers to examine the scale and age of the universe, the life and death of stars and the earliest galaxies.
Eighty percent of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radio telescope will be located in the Northern Cape. The SKA will be the most powerful and sensitive ever built. The SKA telescope will consist of 3 000 dishes with a collection area of 1 square kilometre.
It will have the ability to pick up signals from cosmic events dating back to the ‘Big-Bang’, which occurred approximately 14 billion years ago.