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South Africa’s National Development Plan (NDP) is a detailed blueprint for how the country can eliminate poverty and reduce inequality by the year 2030. 

The NDP proposes 14 outcomes, and the NRF is actively contributing towards at least eight of these outcomes in the following ways.

1. Quality basic education

Early childhood education and high-quality schooling will allow children to fulfil their potential, thus accelerating the shift to a knowledge economy.

  • 13 South African Research Chairs (SARChIs) focusing on mathematics; numeracy education; integrated studies of learning Languages, mathematics and science; teacher education; higher education and human development; and work integrated learning.
  • The South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement (SAASTA), a business unit of the NRF, provides teacher and student support programmes to nurture talent and steer young minds to science-related careers. 

2. A long and healthy life for all South Africans

A young generation largely free of HIV and a reduction in the burden of disease on the population.

  • 40 SARChI Chairs focusing on HIV vaccination translation; detection of cardiovascular diseases; poverty-related diseases; TB biomarkers; malaria, etc.
  • Three Centres of Excellence (CoEs) focusing on epidemiology, HIV prevention and biomedical TB research.
  • iThemba LABS, a National Research Facility managed by the NRF, supplies rare isotopes globally for the early detection and treatment of cancers and provides the only cancer treatment facility of its kind on the continent.

3. A skilled and capable workforce to support an inclusive growth path

A workforce consisting of highly skilled graduates who can meet the present and future needs of the economy and society.

  • In 2016, the NRF supported a total of 14 173 students for their Honours/Btech, Master’s, Doctoral and postdoctoral degrees. Of this number, 10 747 students were black and 8 017 were female.

4. An efficient, competitive and responsive economic infrastructure network

An infrastructure that successfully delivers, among others, electricity, water, sanitation and trade services.

  • The NRF funds Research Renewable Energy Solutions through the Energy Human Capacity Development and Knowledge Generation Programme, and the Energy Research Programme.
  • iThemba LABS provides nuclear research infrastructure.
  • The NRF also provides world-class research infrastructure in various science domains.

5. Vibrant, equitable and sustainable rural communities contributing to food security for all

Providing rural communities with better opportunities to participate fully in the economic, social and political life of the country.

  • 16 SARChI Chairs focusing on a range of contributing themes, including human mobility; social-ecological systems resilience; applied poverty reduction and the sociology of land; environmental and sustainable development.
  • One CoE in Human Development has certain complementary themes in researching the socio-economic development of individuals and societies.
  • Two UK/SA SARChI Bilateral Chairs focusing on food security.
  • Two SARChI chairs focusing on systems biology for food security and phytochemical food networks from a nutrition perspective.
  • One CoE focusing on sustainable food systems to realise food security for poor, vulnerable and marginal populations.

6. Protecting and enhancing our environmental assets and natural resources

The transition to an environmentally sustainable, climate-change resilient, and low-carbon economy.

  • 30 SARChI Chairs focusing on environmental research in areas such as agricultural sciences; agrochemistry; evolution biology; as well as climate change; earth system science; marine ecosystems and paleo-environmental studies.
  • Three CoEs in biodiversity, conservation and biotechnology.
  • The National Research Facilities through SAEON and SAIAB have contributed to national policy development around the protection of environmental assets.

7. Creating a better South Africa, contributing to a better and safer Africa in a better world

A globally competitive economy informed by its national interests, and an influential and leading member of the international community.

  • The NRF builds on its brand and reputation to foster international research partnerships and scientific collaboration on the African continent and globally, thus playing a role in creating a better South Africa and Africa.

8. A diverse, socially cohesive society with a common national identity

A united, prosperous, non-racial, non-sexist and democratic society more conscious of what they have in common than their differences.

  • In fostering a national identity that, among others, incorporates science, technology, engineering, mathematics and innovation (STEMI), the NRF has two SARChI Chairs in science communication, as well as SAASTA that is tasked with advancing public awareness, appreciation and engagement with STEMI.
  • The SARChI Chair in critical diversity studies researches the contextually grounded understandings of diversity issues with the aim of developing knowledge and materials to address South African needs.
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