Inauguration of the South African Young Academy of Science (SAYAS)

Short message from SAYAS to all National Young Academies, the Global Young Academies and other Science Academy Networks

Jerome Amir Singh (singhj9@ukzn.ac.za) and Caradee Wright (cwright@csir.co.za)
Co-Chairs: South African Young Academy of Science (SAYAS)

We are pleased to announce the inauguration of the South African Young Academy of Science (SAYAS) on Tuesday, 27 September 2011, by Deputy Minister for Science and Technology, Mr Derek Hanekom, in Pretoria.

After less than a year of incubation, including planning and developmental work by 7 members of a Working Group, a cohort of 20 founding members was announced. These members come from institutions across South Africa and represent excellence in natural science and humanities.

SAYAS will provide the first platform for leading young scientists to speak as a unified and representative voice on matters that concern the careers of young scientists and issues of importance to the South African society in general where science has a role. Given that this group of people represents the wide diversity of young science leaders of the future, SAYAS will be a valuable resource for government and other policy-makers who are searching for ways to increase capacity and transform South African science. This platform will allow this generation of scientists to directly engage with other scientists (younger and older) and science-based organisations, as well as government, business and society at large, in a more powerful way than would otherwise be possible, to stimulate and steer changes that are necessary within the science system to deal with the complex challenges facing South Africa and the world today. SAYAS will seek to provide the highest platform for engagement with government on young scientist issues in South Africa.

The immediate priority of SAYAS will be to establish this academy as a credible and effectively functioning organisation that can deliver on the high expectations that are placed upon it. SAYAS has already taken the first steps by electing an Executive Committee, co-chaired by Prof Jerome Singh and Dr Caradee Wright, approving a constitution and starting to brainstorm its first projects. The organisation has the strong support of the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) to help it through this establishment phase. One of the most important next objectives will be to secure longer term funding that will sustain the working of the Young Academy. Apart from these functional issues, the founding members are excited to get involved in focused projects, both new and established, that can impact science in South Africa and society more broadly.

SAYAS is delighted to join the ranks of several other National Young Academies, including those still to be officially launched, as we work towards similar over-arching goals. We also look forward to establishing a close relationship with the both the National Young Academies and the Global Young Academy.