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Photo of Khotso Mokhele KHOTSO MOKHELE

Khotso Mokhele, Ph.D., is President of the Foundation for Research Development (FRD), South Africa's funding agency for research in science, engineering and technology. In this role, Dr. Mokhele is deeply committed to the uplifting of disadvantaged communities in South Africa.

Born in 1955 in South Africa, Dr. Mokhele matriculated from a rural school and obtained a B.Sc. degree in agriculture. Then, on a Fulbright-Hays Scholarship, he studied at the University of California-Davis, earning an M.Sc. (food science) and a Ph.D. (microbiology) in 1986. Subsequently, he was awarded postdoctoral fellowships and worked in the laboratory of Nobel Prize-winner Dr. Hamilton O. Smith at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Dr. Mokhele returned to South Africa in 1987 and held teaching and research positions before joining the FRD.

While on "Science Safari" in South Africa, Alan Alda took time out from a busy filming schedule to interview Dr. Mokhele at length about the role of education in the "new" South Africa. Here is an excerpt from his comments:

"I don't believe we will have any democracy to speak of until black people in South Africa start to feel they can be architects of this democracy -- not just the social aspects, but the education and economic aspects as well. For us -- for black people -- and for the total society, we must have unhindered access to those careers upon which an economy is built. And you don't easily do that by producing lots of accountants, lawyers and medical doctors. You do it by producing engineers, physicists and chemists. To create a new society we must open the door that makes mathematics and science education available to everyone in this country."

See Khotso Mokhele 's answers to Ask the Scientists questions.


Scientific American Frontiers
Fall 1990 to Spring 2000
Sponsored by GTE Corporation,
now a part of Verizon Communications Inc.