55 AIMS graduates receive Diploma in Mathematical Sciences

The African Institute for Mathematics and Science (AIMS) awarded  Postgraduate Diplomas in Mathematical Sciences to 55 students from 21 African countries today (Thursday 23 May).

Altogether 55 AIMS students from 21 countries across Africa obtained their Postgraduate Diploma in Mathematical Sciences yesterday.

AIMS is an internationally acclaimed centre for education and research in Muizenberg. It was established in 2003 and is jointly supported by the Universities of Cambridge, Cape Town, Oxford, Paris-Sud, Stellenbosch, and Western Cape and develops talented young mathematicians from Africa.

Prof. Barry Green, Director of AIMS, welcomed guests and congratulated the graduates on obtaining their diplomas. He also asked that the audience observed a moment of silence for Prof. Kader Asmal, former minister of education, who passed away yesterday.

The group of graduates includes 16 women and brings the total of AIMS graduates to 360 since 2003. A special graduation ceremony officiated by the Vice-Chancellors of the Universities of Cape Town, Western Cape and Stellenbosch was held in the Muizenberg Pavillion.

The students completed courses in a wide range of fields in pure and applied mathematics, physics and computer science. Each student wrote an essay which focussed in more detail on a topic proposed by academics from South African universities. Essay topics ranged from mathematical finance, to atmospheric science and cosmology.

Eight of the 55 students – of which four were enrolled at SU – obtained their diploma cum laude.

Prof Russel Botman, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of Stellenbosch University addressed the graduates and said: “Not only have you succeeded at master’s level with your Postgraduate Diploma in Mathematical Sciences, but you have done so in a discipline that forms the foundation of so many fields crucial to progress and development:  from technology and finance to medicine and education, you name it.

Professors Russel Botman, Brian O'Connell, Barry Green and Dr Max Price at the graduation ceremony.

“You would also have learnt the past few months that knowledge requires application to make it truly valuable. That is the challenge ahead of you – to go back into society and put into practice what you have learnt here today in order to make a difference to the lives of people

“That is why this AIMS postgraduate programme is a symbol of hope. Hope is not empty optimism, hope is realistic. It asks of us to consider what we need to do today in order to make life better for the future – for individuals, for families, for communities.”

The guest speaker for the day, Prof Aggrey Ambali, Director Policy alignment and Programme Development, NEPAD, SAID: “Science and technology are the drivers of economic development and it is our responsibility as institutions to recognize the place of science and technology in order for Africa to make its own history by taking its development and future into its own hands.”

He too encouraged the graduates to go out into their respective communities and “be agents of change, creative thinkers and problem solvers”.

Five students received AIMS Scholarships Awards to the value of $10 000 to further their studies. They are: Messrs. Farooq Kyeyune (SU), Tovohery Hajatiana Randianarisoa (SU), Kazage J. Christophe Utuje (UCT), David Wakyiku (UCT) and Ms. Frances Ogochukwau Odumodu (SU).

To add to the reasons for celebrating Mr. Craige Fleischer, Regional Director Southern Africa for Research in Motion – the company behind the Blackberry – announced that RIM made $250 000 in scholarship funding available over the next five years as part of the One for Many Scholarship initiative.

“Africa’s challenges are unique and demanding and therefore the solutions will demand even more creative and innovative thinking,” he added.