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Science Centres Accreditation Committee ready to hit the ground running

Figure 1: PENNSC accreditation committee and SAASTA staff members after the meeting.

Khunou also indicated that the committee members were selected based on their experience and expertise in the operation of science centres.
Figure 2: Accreditation process and cycle for Science Centres

The Accreditation Committee for the framework for Promotion of Excellence in the National Network of Science Centres (PENNSC) held its inaugural induction meeting on 9 November, 2018, in Pretoria to ensure that the newly appointed committee members understand their roles, responsibilities and the objectives of the National Network of Science Centres (NNSC). The meeting was held at the South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement (SAASTA), which is the body responsible for overseeing the implementation of the quality assurance and accreditation of Science Centres in South Africa.

The newly appointed committee members included SAASTA’s Monitoring and Evaluation Project Coordinator, Gugulethu Mtsweni, Chief Executive Officer and Founder of the Victors Hub, Nozuko Mabombo, National Research Foundation/ Research and Innovation Support and Advancement (NRF/RISA) Professional Officer, Sive Stofile, Rural Education Festival’s Executive Director, Griezel Raphahlelo, Cape Town Science Centre Manager, Akash Dusrath, Vuwani Science Centre Manager, Dr Eric Maluta, University of Zululand (UniZulu) Science Centre Director, Dr Derek Fish, Department of Science and Technology(DST)’s Deputy Director – Basic Sciences, Thabo Radebe and Academy of Science of South Africa’s (ASSAf) Scholarly Publishing Manager, Susan Veldsman.

Manager for Monitoring and Evaluation at SAASTA, Joyce Khunou’s presentation during the induction meeting focused on providing the committee members with background information on the policy context and framework that guides the establishment of PENNSC, role players and their responsibilities, composition of committees of the peer evaluation panel and the accreditation committee, its expected deliverables and operational logistics. The induction further focused on the accreditation process and cycle.

Khunou also added, “The committee is also responsible for making recommendations on accreditation and maintenance of membership to the NNSC.”

Khunou thanked all the members for availing themselves to serve in the accreditation committee. Khunou emphasised that the committee has an important role to play concerning the implementation of the PENNSC Framework for Promotion of Excellence in Science Centres. “The committee’s role is to facilitate procedurally and fair decision making on the accreditation of Science Centres,” said Khunou.

Accreditation Committee Secretariat and the Coordinator of the NNSC, Gugulethu Mtsweni, provided a progress report on self-evaluation by the Science Centres and peer reviewers. Mtsweni indicated that most Science Centres have not yet completed the self-evaluation process. One of the main challenges is that despite encouragement for Science Centres to do their self-evaluation on the online system that was launched earlier this year, very few Science Centres have commenced with the process.

Dr Fish, who is also an NNSC Accreditation Committee member, encouraged the members to commence with the self-evaluation process. He also added that committee members need to encourage other Science Centres to start with self-evaluations.

Science Centres can do their online self-evaluation by registering or login into the NNSC website (www.sanc.org.za).

The framework for PENNSC is a DST policy framework that was established to create a platform for the accreditation of Science centres in order to establish their development needs, receive support and subsidies from the DST through SAASTA grants, create a platform for accreditation for international recognition, communicate and share individual experiences, establish best practices and enable Science Centres to qualify and make use of a pool of exhibit, expertise, training and other shared programmes. The policy framework is also an important tool whereby accreditation and quality assurance techniques are used to guide the establishment and maintained of science centres.

In closing, Khunou thanked all the participants and encouraged them to continue with their participation in the committee.

For more information regarding the NNSC, contact Gugulethu Mtsweni on:
Email gugulethu@saasta.ac.za