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Sci-Fest Africa encourages youth to take science careers

by Nthambeleni Gabara
on 20 Apr 2008
BuaNews Online
BuaNews Online

The Department of Science and Technology, through a number of strategic interventions such as the Sci-Fest Africa, has encouraged learners to take science based careers.

Addressing the annual National Science Festival on Friday, Science and Technology Minister, Mosibudi Mangena said: "My department is already leading a number of strategic interventions to assist our young people to take science-based career directions."

The week-long festival, which kicked off on Wednesday, will take place under theme: Youth into Science Strategy.

Sci-Fest Africa aims to break popular misconceptions and create a new attitude towards science, engineering and technology, especially among the youth.

The festival makes science accessible to ordinary people and shows that science, engineering and technology play a crucial role on a daily basis.

This year's event features include over 500 events ranging from lectures, interactive exhibitions, workshops, educational theatre, laser show, science olympics and astronomy lessons.

The festival attracts about 45 000 visitors from South Africa and the neighbouring countries every year.

The minister said the National Science Festival is an important event to different stakeholders who share an interest in promoting public awareness about science and technology in South Africa.

The Grahamstown Foundation started the Science and Technology Festival ten years ago.

The festival came into being a year after the publication of the White Paper on Science and Technology.

The Paper identified the impact the interaction between science and society, among other factors, has on the development of a vibrant National System of Innovation.

Mr Mangena said he was encouraged by the fact that the organisers of the festival are aware of the challenges facing our country, particularly with regard to the development of a demographically representative science, engineering and technology workforce.

The minister was delighted after realising that the organisers have included several activities targeting school learners on the festival programme.

"The activities are aimed at stimulating learners' interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and will provide our learners with a basis on which to start with the process of shaping a science-based career," he said.

Given the challenges the country is facing in building a vibrant National System of Innovation, Minister Mangena said there is a need for various role players to coordinate their efforts through an integrated approach.

"We believe it is with this understanding that SciFest Africa has continued to bring together government departments, community organisations, higher education institutions and corporate sector partners as an attempt to promote public awareness of science and technology," he said.

Mr Mangena said Sci-Fest Africa could have never developed thus far without the generous contributions by its anchor sponsors, Sasol Limited, Old Mutual South Africa and others.

"Special mention must be made of the open-handed sponsorships by the embassies of Finland, France, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and the United States of America," he said.

During the festival learners, educators, parents and others who will be visiting the SciFest Africa exhibitions, scientists from a variety of institutions will keep them on their toes with displays showing different ways in which science affects and improves people's lives.

"I have no doubt that the scientists in the SciFest line-up for 2008 will do a good job of keeping the majority of the visiting youngsters excited about science, technology and mathematics when they return to school." - BuaNews


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