In his address, Prof Lourens van Staden, Vice-Chancellor and Principal, outlined how, as an important global player, TUT focuses on apex priorities as captured in the UN Sustainable Development Goals, Africa 2063 agenda, NDP and regional development plans where TUT is active.
The opportunities for collaboration and making a difference in vast areas of people’s lives are limitless, Prof van Staden said. “A number of the areas of collaboration in the MoU also overlaps TUT’s Academic Apex priorities of Health Education; Gender Equality; Renewable energy; Poverty; Climate Change; Manufacturing; Water Quality; Phytomedicine; Teacher Education; and Acid Mine Drainage.”
“The theme of today’s event, partnering for provincial relevance and globally competitive knowledge application, fits seamlessly with TUT’s Strategic Approach to Collaborate or Collapse. Strategically vibrant partnerships/collaborations, such as this one, are imperative to address dwindling resources, and to generate additional income streams,” he continued.
Prof van Staden explained TUT’s alignment with global trends, hence the University has also adopted the Quadruple helix approach for tackling the complex challenges faced in our societies. “It breaks down the traditional silos between government, industry, academia, and civil participants, bringing these multidisciplinary viewpoints together in an environment that promotes team-work, collaboration and the sharing of ideas. By working together, this quadruple helix approach can create new-shared value that benefits all participants in what becomes an innovation ecosystem. This value is characterised by a long-term view, focusing on improved social conditions as well as company performance. Success is thus measured for the ecosystem as a whole, rather than individual units.”
Limpopo Premier, Mr Chupu Stanley Mathabatha and Prof Lourens van Staden signing the MoU.
Dr Walter Tshamano, Polokwane Campus Rector, shared the campus’ journey in identifying the areas of collaboration. “Various levels of government and state entities have invited us to consultative meetings, while we have also been working collaboratively with some of the community structures for a number of years. The Greater Tzaneen Community Foundation, specifically, has been instrumental in shifting our focus on the practicalities of the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” he said.
He added that TUT is the only university in the province that offers technology-based higher education. “The MoU has been crafted in such a way that the needs of the Province and the services TUT could offer from research, relevant programme identification, development of capable human capital and meaningful community engagement exercises are well synchronised and integrated. It is about focusing on what is relevant to our province; focusing on the challenges and taking advantage of identifiable opportunities; while also ensuring that global developments do not render our endeavours obsolete.”
He continued to explain that through the MoU, TUT and the Limpopo Provincial Government wish to create a legal framework through which the parties will be able to harness their plans, resources and expertise for the implementation of activities that will benefit the people of the province. The signing of the MoU signifies the formalization of the key principles. The Task Team from both the Premier's Office and TUT will begin to work on the details immediately thereafter, as the MoU should not be put aside to gather dust.
In his concluding remarks, the Limpopo Province Premier, Mr Chupu Stanley Mathabatha, referred to Prof Kader Asmal’s dream to provide seamless access to Higher Education, when initiating the merger of certain institutions and the creation of new Universities in the late 1990’s.
He congratulated TUT on its 15-year celebrations and the progress it has made in such a short time. “It is indeed a milestone reached since the merger was announced by the late Prof Kader Asmal. Education is the one thing that can change the lives of the people of Limpopo. In fact, education changes everything”.
He added that the Limpopo Local Government is grateful for formalising the collaboration with TUT and looks forward to a long and fruitful partnership with TUT’s Polokwane Campus. “The time for change is NOW,” he concluded.