The South Africa Agency for Science and Technology Advancement (SAASTA) is a business unit of the National Research Foundation (NRF) with the mandate to advance public awareness, appreciation and engagement of science, engineering, innovation and technology in South Africa.

SAASTA’s contribution to the NRF’s vision is to grow the pool of quality learners today who will become the scientists and innovators of tomorrow.

All science promotion or awareness programmes within the NRF reside under three key strategic areas that combine to form an integrated and seamless approach.

Through education we build up the supply of tomorrow’s scientists and innovators.

Through communication we celebrate South African achievements in science and technology and build the public’s appreciation of the benefits of science.

By growing the awareness of science through exploration, exhibitions and actual experience, we instil in people an enthusiasm about the wonder and application of the subject, while encouraging greater public engagement in SET issues.

By taking overall ownership of science advancement initiatives within the NRF and on a countrywide scale, SAASTA is responding to an organisational as well as national imperative.


SAASTA was formerly known as the Foundation for Education, Science and Technology (FEST). The organisation changed its name after being incorporated into the National Research Foundation (NRF) in December 2002.

SAASTA currently occupies two sites, namely the Didacta Building in Skinner Street, Pretoria that serves as its headquarters and the Observatory in Johannesburg, which the organisation acquired in 2003.

Scope of activities

  • Building the quantity and quality of mathematics and science outputs at school level (developing SET human capital)
  • Raising the general interest in, engagement and appreciation of the public (and especially poorer communities) for the benefit of science (strengthening the SET culture)
  • Communicating science to the South African citizenry (bringing science and scientists closer to civil society).


SAASTA derives its core funding via the NRF from the Department of Science and Technology (DST). The NRF itself is a science council and as such is a non-profit entity.

Did you know?

Between April 2013 and March 2014, SAASTA activities reached 506 411 learners and 18 295 educators. Six learner resources, six educator resources, 12 science promotion publications and 11 technical manuals and fact sheets were developed.

A total of over 846 999 members of the South African community was reached between April 2013 and March 2014.

Advancing science across the globe

SAASTA’s programmes and projects cover a vast and varied terrain. Locally, our activities reached the most remote corners of our country. Internationally, our staff did us proud by flying the SAASTA flag in a range of other African countries and as far afield as Europe, the United States and China.