Scielo RSS <![CDATA[South African Journal of Science]]> vol. 114 num. 7-8 lang. es <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> <![CDATA[<b>And out into the world they go...</b>]]> <![CDATA[<b>Pint of Science: Bringing science to the public and highlighting African research</b>]]> <![CDATA[<b>Reconceptualising health professions education in South Africa</b>]]> <![CDATA[<b>A new documentation of African rodent diversity</b>]]> <![CDATA[<b>A hardwired neo-cortex — What role for neuroplasticity and developmental processes?</b>]]> <![CDATA[<b>A note on equity returns for South African investors</b>]]> <![CDATA[<b>Owning the lake, not just the rod: The continuing challenge of 'the old boys' in knowledge production</b>]]> <![CDATA[<b>Possible predator avoidance behaviour of hominins in South Africa</b>]]> <![CDATA[<b>Possible importance of <i>Cannabis sativa</i> L. in regulation of insulin and IL-6R/MAO-A in cancer cell progression and migration of breast cancer patients with diabetes</b>]]> <![CDATA[<b>Comments on Mpeta et al. (2018): Black living standards in South Africa before democracy</b>]]> <![CDATA[<b>Chris Callaghan's criticism of the National Research Foundation's rating methodology: A rebuttal</b>]]> <![CDATA[<b>Review of innovations in the South African collection industry</b>]]> The objective of this review was to provide an overview of new developments and innovations within the collections industry that could possible enhance the performance of collection agencies, specifically in South Africa. A literature study was conducted to determine current practices in the collections industry, as well as possible future innovations. A significant trend identified throughout the literature study was the increasing prioritisation of automated digital communication in several aspects of debt collection. It is reasonable to assume that this trend will continue to become the industry standard. Four recommendations are made based on the findings of the literature study. Firstly, South African collection agencies should investigate the feasibility of developing an app-based solution to performing collections. Secondly, collection agencies should supplement traditional modelling techniques with other tools, such as those developed in the field of machine learning. Thirdly, collection agencies could consider using speech analytics to obtain insights into call centre agents' performance and adherence to business rules. Lastly, the usage of social media data in collections as well as credit risk modelling in general is recommended as a topic for future study. SIGNIFICANCE: • A review of the various techniques currently employed in the field of debt collections may serve as useful reference for both academics and those working in debt collections. • Recommendations are provided to assist businesses in aligning the operational models of their debt collection units to industry best practice. • Topics for future research in this crucial sector of the economy, which brings together such fields as risk governance, predictive modelling, human psychology, debt management, legal compliance and business analysis, are provided. <![CDATA[<b>A critical review of social sciences and humanities R&D expenditure in South Africa, 2005-2014</b>]]> Expenditure on research and experimental development in the social sciences and humanities (SSH) in South Africa has almost doubled over the past decade. However, fine-grained analysis of patterns of R expenditure in SSH research fields over the period 2005/2006-2014/2015 reveals a number of critical issues for both institutional planning and national policymaking. We demonstrate that most SSH R expenditure in the 10-year reference period was targeted predominantly within just a few research fields: finance, economics, education, accounting and political science and public policy. By contrast, investment in SSH research fields such as architecture and habitat, media and communication studies, psychology, and transportation studies was strikingly low in the same period, with some research fields, such as dance or tourism, appearing to be at risk of decline. Using these R data as a proxy, we argue, principally, that institutional R planners and national policymakers need to find a greater balance between current priorities and future needs, if SSH R is to be 'leveraged' for larger socio-economic impacts, as is being envisaged in a new draft White Paper on Science, Technology and Innovation. SIGNIFICANCE: • R expenditure in the social sciences and humanities between 2005 and 2014 was concentrated in just a few research fields, such as finance, economics and education. By contrast, R expenditure was comparatively low in research fields such as media and communication studies, technology management, architecture and habitat, and dance. • In an era of rapid global technological change, but also deepening local societal challenges, South Africa's national and institutional policymakers face strategic R choices. This article contributes to national debate about the status and perceived role(s) of the social sciences and humanities in this context. <![CDATA[<b>Nurses' knowledge of and willingness to promote female condom use in Johannesburg Health District</b>]]> The female condom is the only current method for female partners to simultaneously prevent both pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. Studies of various contraceptive methods suggest that providers' acceptance and endorsement may be a key factor in their clients' uptake and continued use of a method. Our aim in this study was to assess the relationship between nurses' knowledge of and their willingness to promote female condom use in 18 public healthcare facilities within the Johannesburg District. The mean score of correct answers of 398 nurses completing an anonymous, self-administered, six-item questionnaire was 4 out of a maximum of 6. Data analysis included the use of descriptive statistics and a chi-square test. It was found that 79% of participants were knowledgeable but only 59% were willing to promote female condom use. There was no association between knowledge of and willingness to promote female condom use. The following significant associations with knowledge and willingness to promote female condom use were found: family planning experience, being employed by a local government authority, working in a primary care clinic and having had informal training on female condom use. Informal training of nurses within the family planning unit in the clinics has the potential to improve nurses' knowledge and willingness to promote female condom use. SIGNIFICANCE: •This is the first study conducted in South Africa on the knowledge of and willingness of healthcare providers to promote female condom use. •An effective strategy is needed to motivate healthcare workers to promote female condom use with their patients. •Informal training of nurses within the family planning unit has the potential to improve nurses' knowledge of and willingness to promote female condom use. <![CDATA[<b>I believe I can do science: Self-efficacy and science achievement of Grade 9 students in South Africa</b>]]> An important component of an individual's scientific literacy is a positive attitude towards science. However, emphasis is too often placed on achievement scores rather than attitude. While individuals' relative levels of problem-solving skills, inherent aptitudes for the subject matter and teaching practices are conveyed through achievement scores, attitudes to science convey individuals' emotional evaluation of the subject. Attitudes have a strong impact on behaviour: through either facilitating the learning process or hindering it. Furthermore, attitudes towards science reflect the culture which exists within a school, as well as the wider social context within which learning takes place. As a result, understanding attitudes is a key component of the interpretation of achievement results. We used data from 12 514 Grade 9 students in South Africa who participated in the 2015 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study to investigate students' self-efficacy in science. Multiple linear regression analyses were used to address the following key research questions: (1) What is the relationship between self-efficacy and science achievement for Grade 9 students in South Africa? and (2) What are the contextual factors associated with the self-efficacy of Grade 9 students in South Africa? The findings reveal a positive relationship between self-efficacy and science achievement and suggest a need to also focus on non-cognitive aspects in order to improve science achievement. SIGNIFICANCE: •The study contributes to understanding the determinants of science performance at school. •The findings highlight the importance of non-cognitive dimensions in science achievement at school. •The findings have policy implications for education programmes and teachers in relation to interventions which incorporate non-cognitive dimensions. <![CDATA[<b>Metafrontier analysis of commercial and smallholder tomato production: A South African case</b>]]> South African agriculture is a dualist agricultural system with well-developed commercial farmers and resource-poor smallholder farmers. In an effort to address the dualist nature of agriculture, the South African government has developed a strategic plan to assist smallholder farmers in entering commercial markets. The strategic plan aims to advance subsistence and smallholder farmers into commercial production through improved resource management for sustainable food security and smallholder livelihood. However, the productivity of smallholder farmers continues to be very low compared with that of commercial farmers. Our aim was to compare tomato productivity for commercial and smallholder tomato farmers in the Nkomazi area (Mpumalanga Province) using a metafrontier analysis. We used an output-oriented data envelopment analysis metafrontier approach and the Tobit model to investigate smallholder and commercial farmers' technical efficiencies and related factors which affect tomato production. Results indicate that smallholder farmers have high levels of technical efficiency compared to the group frontier (0.74), but they are less technically efficient compared to the metafrontier (0.51). The group efficiencies of the smallholder farmers also showed a large variation ranging from 3% to 100%, while commercial farmers have high levels of efficiency compared to both the group frontier (0.89) and the metafrontier (0.88). Results from the Tobit regression indicate that farmers' managerial decisions are an important determinant of their technical efficiency. We conclude that smallholder farmers first need to increase their level of technical efficiency relative to their peers before aiming to compete with commercial farmers. SIGNIFICANCE: •Smallholder farmers should first improve their resource use efficiency compared to their fellow smallholder farmers before they consider comparing themselves against the commercial farmers. <![CDATA[<b>The good, the bad and the ugly of South African fatal road accidents</b>]]> We reflect on the good, the bad and the ugly of the fatal accidents occurring on South Africa's roads. The cost of human lives indisputably equates to 'the ugly' and the economic cost of accidents associates with 'the bad'. 'The good' relates to the reduction of both these costs that may result from the entrance of self-driving cars into the South African market as well as awareness campaigns like the Arrive Alive National Road Safety Strategy. The general contribution of this paper is to raise awareness of the effects of accidents, more specifically fatal accidents. Current trends in terms of human factors as well as road and environmental factors involved in the fatal accidents on South African roads are summarised. This paper also serves as a preliminary investigation into possible factors influencing these accidents, which ought to be of interest to a very broad readership, more specifically those focusing on risk analysis, and certainly is of interest to any citizen of South Africa. SIGNIFICANCE: •Awareness is raised of the effects of fatal accidents on South African roads. •Current trends in terms of human factors as well as road and environmental factors on road accidents are reflected upon. •The futuristic effect of self-driving cars is explored. <![CDATA[<b>Spatial distribution of temporal precipitation contrasts in South Africa</b>]]> The focus of the present study was to investigate the spatial-temporal variability and trends of precipitation concentration across South Africa using the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) 3B42 version 7 satellite precipitation data sets spanning 1998-2015. In the analysis, the precipitation concentration index (PCI) was used to infer the variability of temporal precipitation contrasts and the spatial distributions at annual, seasonal and supra-seasonal timescales. The results indicate that precipitation concentration across South Africa exhibits noticeable spatial-temporal variability. In terms of PCI classification criteria, the precipitation distribution ranges from relatively uniform (mainly in the central and southern interior of South Africa) to highly irregular (especially to the northeastern and western parts of South Africa) at annual timescales. At seasonal timescales, the precipitation distribution is uniform during December-February season, moderate during March-May and September-November seasons while during the June-August season, the precipitation distribution is highly irregular. Furthermore, during the 1998-2015 period, there exists a spatial and temporal pattern of PCI trends which are generally statistically insignificant. The PCI analysis results reported in this study are essential because they provide valuable information on the long-term total variability in the precipitation records across South Africa. In particular, this study contributes towards evaluating the spatial contrasts or concentration of the different accumulated amounts of the received precipitation. Results from this study have important scientific and practical applications in hydrological hazard risks (floods and droughts) and soil erosion monitoring. SIGNIFICANCE: • Precipitation concentration exhibits spatial-temporal variability. • At an annual timescale, precipitation concentration is highly irregular in most parts of the country. • Precipitation concentration distribution varies across seasons. <![CDATA[<b>Cosmic ray neutrons provide an innovative technique for estimating intermediate scale soil moisture</b>]]> Soil moisture is an important hydrological parameter, which is essential for a variety of applications, thereby extending to numerous disciplines. Currently, there are three methods of estimating soil moisture: ground-based (in-situ) measurements; remote sensing based methods and land surface models. In recent years, the cosmic ray probe (CRP), which is an in-situ technique, has been implemented in several countries across the globe. The CRP provides area-averaged soil moisture at an intermediate scale and thus bridges the gap between in-situ point measurements and global satellite-based soil moisture estimates. The aim of this study was to test the suitability of the CRP to provide spatial estimates of soil moisture. The CRP was set up and calibrated in Cathedral Peak Catchment VI. An in-situ soil moisture network consisting of time-domain reflectometry and Echo probes was created in Catchment VI, and was used to validate the CRP soil moisture estimates. Once calibrated, the CRP was found to provide spatial estimates of soil moisture, which correlated well with the in-situ soil moisture network data set and yielded an R² value of 0.845. The use of the CRP for soil moisture monitoring provided reliable, accurate and continuous soil moisture estimates over the catchment area. The wealth of current and potential applications makes the CRP very appealing for scientists and engineers in various fields. SIGNIFICANCE: •The cosmic ray probe provides spatial estimates of surface soil moisture at an intermediate scale of 18 hectares. •A single cosmic ray probe can replace a network of conventional in-situ instruments to provide reliable soil moisture estimates. •The cosmic ray probe is capable of estimating soil moisture in previously problematic areas (saline soil, wetlands, rocky soil). •Cosmic ray probes can provide data for hydro-meteorologists interested in land-atmosphere interactions. •The cosmic ray probe estimates can be promising for remote sensing scientists for product calibration and validation. <![CDATA[<b>Community composition and functions of endophytic bacteria of Bt maize</b>]]> We investigated the potential effects of genetic modification of Bt maize on the community composition and functions of bacterial endophytes associated with transgenic maize (Bt MON 810) in comparison with its isogenic parental line at two developmental stages. Bacterial isolates were obtained from transgenic (Bt) and non-transgenic (non-Bt) maize at 50- and 90-day-old developmental stages. Isolated bacterial endophytes were screened for their capabilities in phosphate solubilisation, nitrogen fixation, production of antifungal metabolites and production of indole acetic acid. After molecular identification, 60 isolates were obtained and clustered into 19 and 18 operational taxonomic units from 50- and 90-day-old maize, respectively. The isolates belonged to the genera Bacillus, Pantoea, Serratia, Yersinia, Enterobacter, Pseudomonas, Acinetobacter and Stenotrophomonas. Functional attributes and diversity of the isolated endophytes at both developmental stages were not significantly different for both maize varieties. However, functional attributes were significantly affected by plant growth stage. Isolates from younger plants were more efficient producers of indole acetic acid, but exhibited little or no capabilities for nitrogen fixation, phosphate solubilisation and antifungal activity in both maize genotypes. Based on these outcomes, Bt modification in maize does not seem to affect the community composition or functional attributes of bacterial endophytes. SIGNIFICANCE: •Bt modification in maize does not affect the ecological guild or functional attributes of cultivable bacterial endophytes. <![CDATA[<b>Developing and implementing policy for the mandatory labelling of genetically modified food in South Africa</b>]]> Like many other countries, South Africa has come under public pressure to introduce mandatory labelling for genetically modified (GM) foods. Although there is increased understanding of the social and political implications of GM labelling in developed countries, implications for the Global South are still poorly understood. South Africa, as a country that consumes, produces and trades GM food, represents a fitting case study of these dimensions in the context of a developing economy. Via policy analysis, stakeholder interviews and document inquiry we offer an overview of the evolution of GM food labelling, investigate the central influences on its development and implementation, determine the critical issues and identify the factors impeding or facilitating implementation. Our findings reveal that many significant events and decisions influenced the policy on mandatory GM food labelling in South Africa. They also suggest that several pertinent and problematic issues arose during its development as a result of (1) the contentious nature of GM food labelling; (2) stakeholder opinions, influences, and conflicted positions; and (3) its practical complexity. Key implementation issues included divergent interpretations, and thus high levels of ambiguity; an inefficient National Consumer Commission; a lack of recourse for non-compliance; and the absence of a government-enforcement agency. Lower capacity in developing countries underscores the importance of a participation process that is believable by and inclusive of all actors. Stakeholders' opinions about the policy development process were affected by their predetermined viewpoints about GM organisms (GMOs). Findings emphasise the significance on participatory processes of larger policy debates about the acceptability of GMOs, and the importance of contextualising GM food labelling policies within such debates. SIGNIFICANCE: •The first review of the evolution of mandatory GM food labelling policy in South Africa is provided. •A knowledge gap with regard to GM food labelling in developing countries is filled. •The importance of procedural fairness in determining the degree of stakeholder satisfaction with policy decisions is revealed.