Diplomats, government officials, industry leaders and academics gathered at the University of Pretoria’s Future Africa Institute campus recently for the official launch of the Maarif Centre for Turkish Studies (MCTS). The Centre is the result of a collaboration between the University’s Faculty of Humanities, the Turkish Maarif Foundation and the Turkish Embassy in South Africa.
The Centre, which is aimed at enhancing higher education opportunities and academic exchanges in both countries, will be a knowledge production hub focusing on Turkish studies in South Africa and on the African continent. It will also promote academic and policy interaction, cultural relations between the University and higher education institutions in Türkiye, among other efforts. In addition, it will help contribute to Türkiye-specific expertise with a distinctly African perspective.
Speaking at the launch, Professor Innocent Pikirayi, Acting Dean of the Faculty of Humanities, said: “As a Faculty, we are very well ranked internationally… We have numerous international partnerships and agreements with universities worldwide including in the United States of America, the United Kingdom, China and many others. It is in the context of these partnerships that we welcome partnering with the Turkish Maarif Foundation in the establishment for a Maarif Centre for Turkish Studies at our Faculty at UP.”
From left: Prof Innocent Pikirayi, Acting Dean of the Faculty of Humanities at UP; Dr Birol Akgün, President of the Turkish Maarif Foundation; Prof Caroline Nicholson, Registrar at UP; His Excellency Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Republic of Türkiye; Ayşegül Kandaş, Türkiye Ambassador to South Africa; and Deniz Doğan, Turkish Maarif Foundation South Africa Director.
Standing in for Vice-Chancellor and Principal Professor Tawana Kupe at the launch, Professor Caroline Nicholson, Registrar at UP, said: “The MCTS comes in at a time when relations between Türkiye and South Africa are flourishing on all levels.”
“Both countries are making inspirational strides in the development of education by creating opportunities for scholars to share knowledge for academic excellence. We are both proud and delighted that Türkiye has chosen to partner with UP in the establishment of this exciting and prestigious new centre.”
President of the Turkish Maarif Foundation, Dr Birol Akgün, said: “We want to be part of transforming the world through African research excellence.”
He explained that the Foundation’s mandate was to open and run educational institutions on behalf of Türkiye internationally.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Türkiye, His Excellency Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, said the initiative will become a centre of excellence in research on Türkiye in South Africa.
“I believe South Africa and Türkiye have an important role to play in this age of conflict around the world. By learning from each other through this research centre, we can change the world for the better, together,” he said.