South African Minister of Higher Education and Training awarded Officier de l’Ordre National de la Légion d’Honneur
On Friday 30 November 2018, Ambassador of France to South Africa, H.E. Mr. Christophe Farnaud, bestowed on South African Minister of Higher Education and Training, Ms. Naledi Pandor, the award of Officier de l’Ordre National de la Légion d’Honneur (or Officer in the French Legion of Honour) on behalf of the French President at the French Residence in Pretoria.
Minister Pandor is recognised for her remarkable, life-long achievements and for her efforts in nurturing and furthering the cooperation between France and South Africa in the field of science, technology as well as vocational and academic training during her time as Minister of Science and Technology and Higher Education and Training.
The French Legion of Honour celebrates the accomplishments of distinguished individuals, irrespective of sex, social background and nationality. The national order of the Legion of Honour was established by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802, and is the highest decoration in France. It was first awarded on 14 July 1804.
Since 1994, Minister Pandor has served as Minister of Education, Minister of Science and Technology, Minister of Home Affairs and Minister of Higher Education and Training.
Minister Pandor played a key role in developing scientific cooperation between France and South Africa and Paris is now one of Pretoria’s key partners in this sector. France has implemented a number of highly visible actions with South Africa, such as the funding of student mobility at the Master and Doctorate levels, the funding of collaborative research through the PROTEA program and the creation of research centres and training partners such as the French South African Institute of Technology (F’SATI) and the French South African Schneider Electric Education Center. In 2016, F’SATI was awarded the Science Diplomacy Award from the Science Forum South Africa for its contribution to human capital development.
During the ceremony, Ambassador Farnaud said: “Minister Pandor is a key political figure in South Africa. Her passion for science and education spans throughout her successful career and even spills over into the rest of her life. Her actions have been prominently inspired by the idea that both education and science should be key role players for solving critical issues in this country”.
Minister Pandor said: “We are committed to the very longstanding friendship between our two countries… The French people and government have granted this honour to persons we regard as illustrious – the heroes and heroines of our country”.
Other prominent South Africans who have been awarded this honour are former President Nelson Mandela, late struggle icon Ahmed Kathrada, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the late Edna Molewa.