Institutions of learning, the private and public sector, governments and civil society need to work together to ensure that technology is there to serve people and will create maximum impact and be accessible to the most impoverished amongst us, Dr Precious Moloi-Motsepe, co-founder and CEO of the Motsepe Foundation said in a graduation address at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology.
She told the gathering that what is known as the fourth industrial revolution, of ubiquitous mobile super-computing, intelligent robots, self-driving cars, neuro-technological brain enhancements and artificial intelligence is evident all around us and is happening at exponential speed.
This, she said, will have a major impact in how we work, live and relate to one another.
Its scope and scale will be unlike anything that we have experienced in the steam, electricity and electronics IT revolutions.
“We need education and training institutions that train students and our workforce to be adaptable enough to changes in technology, boost workers capacity to learn and think in a world where creative and critical skills are at a premium,” Dr Moloi-Motsepe said.
“What is exciting is that, it will bring many opportunities, such as improvements in health and improved quality of life, but the challenges of greater inequality and disruptions of labour markets especially in developing world are real,” she added.
“I am very humbled that four students graduating today were funded by the Motsepe Foundation, namely: Anele Unati Sinelli, Siyabulela Mahlanyana, Sean Smith and Courtney Edwards.”
The Motsepe Foundation supports more than 700 students in various Universities in the country.
“We believe that Education is one of the ways that we will liberate our people from poverty. Our vision as the Motsepe Foundation is to give hope and build a better and brighter future for all our people, hence our contribution to education.
“We believe in particular, that students advocacy for investments in education and higher education are valid for the advancement of South Africa and the African continent. We also draw our inspiration from progressive African forebears’ wisdom such as the proclamation by one of the leading African statesmen and the former Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, when he says, “Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is a promise of progress in every society, in every family.”
She expressed the hope that amongst the graduates must come out scholars who are intent in following up on research on diverse medical, environmental, cultural, marine and technological areas, entrepreneurs whose businesses will thrive and become profitable whilst at the same time re-investing in socio-economic development and the development of responsible entrepreneurship in South Africa, Africa and the world, among others.
Quoting former President Mandela, Dr Moloi-Motsepe said he articulates the importance of education and knowledge in his book, Long walk to Freedom:
“Education is the greatest engine of Personal development. It is through education that the daughter of a peasant can become a doctor, that the son of a mineworker can become the head of the mine that a child of farmworkers can become the President of a great nation.”