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Deepening democracy through science, technology and innovation: National Science Week 2018

Minister of Science and Technology, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane at the launch of the 2018 National Science Week at the University of Mpumalanga.

Source: Department of Science and Technology

The 2018 instalment of National Science Week (NSW) got underway in Mpumalanga on 28 July 2018, with hundreds of enthusiastic learners attending the launch event. NSW is an annual countrywide celebration of science, technology, engineering, mathematics and innovation, led by the Department of Science and Technology (DST).

The University of Mpumalanga (UMP), which turns five in October 2018, formed the backdrop for the activities. The Minister of Science and Technology, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, launched the event, supported by the MEC for Education, Sibusiso Malaza, who also represented the Premier of the Province, Refilwe Mtshweni.

UMP was established in 2014, initially accommodating a modest intake of 140 students. It is early days in the university’s 10-year plan to reach their ultimate goal – to offer a broad spectrum of faculties educating 20 000 students and producing young adults equally qualified to either take their place in established job sectors or establish themselves as entrepreneurs, not reliant on vacancies opening up for them. The University is growing rapidly with new infrastructure developed.

Minister Kubayi-Ngubane, praised learners for attending the Saturday launch. “You could’ve been at home enjoying the weekend, but you chose to come here instead, which shows me you are eager to learn,” she said.

She told learners that the DST was working with its entities and partners to ensure that the country effectively participates in the fourth industrial revolution. Breaking down the basics of Industry 4.0, the Minister told learners to use Google to do further research on the topic and challenged them to use technology to inform their future.

The Minister encouraged them to work hard at subjects such as Mathematics and Science to ensure that they can pursue careers within the realm of the fourth industrial revolution.

MEC Malaza welcomed the fact that the DST chose to launch NSW 2018 in Mpumalanga. He said the Province has put in place several initiatives to ensure that learners succeed in Mathematics and Science. These include an academy which focuses exclusively on these subjects.

The 2017 Eskom Expo winner, Fiona Khoza, also addressed learners about the sustainable energy projects she developed that earned her several science competition prizes. A former grade 12 pupil from the Province’s Mahushe Agricultural High School, Khoza told learners that her hard work at school earned her a Siemens bursary to study engineering in Germany.

Fiona won a bursary for creating a solar tracking device, which follows the sun across the sky. She developed the system from different components she could find.

The NSW theme for this year is, “Celebrating Mama Albertina Sisulu, a Woman of Fortitude Deepening Democracy through Science, Technology and Innovation”.

The UMP was a hive of activity, with more than 80 exhibitions, illustrating the value of science in our daily lives. Hundreds of learners streamed onto the campus and participated in dozens of science demonstrations, mathematical puzzles and workshops.

Drawing the attention of learners, were exhibits like nanotechnology by the Nanotechnology Public Engagement Programme (NPEP), hydrogen fuel cell technology run by the Hydrogen South Africa initiative, the Centre of Excellence in Food Security, Vuwani science centre, MINTEK demonstrated metallurgy technology, and Sasol Inzalo Foundation which focuses on science, technology, engineering and mathematics education intervention programmes.