Mpho Matemane & Maboni Mmatli | 11 August 2017
In South Africa, August of every year is dedicated to Science through the hosting of National Science Week (NSW). This year was dedicated to “Advancing Science Tourism” and the launch was held at the Nelson Mandela University in the Port Elizabeth city if the Eastern Cape. The annual event was attended by more than 3000 learners from in and around Port Elizabeth and was addressed by the Minister of Science and Technology – mme Naledi Pandor.
The minister urged the learners to change South Africa’s future by pursuing Mathematics and Science. She also reminded them that during the apartheid-era, black people were not encouraged to study these fields. “Through studying Science, Engineering and Technology at places like the Nelson Mandela University, we can develop a greener economy for South Africa and for the world. You must be bold and "go beyond the required 40% pass mark” she said. The sentiments of her words were echoed by the Vice-Chancellor of the university – Prof Derrick Swarts; who said the country’s poverty and inequality challenges were persistent but that this could be changed through the learning of Mathematics and Science.
Some of the speakers were young Scientists sharing their experiences of taking part in, and winning the Eskom Expo for young Scientist competition. Amongst them was Carol Boshoff of Cape Recief special needs school, who said she wants to help learners like herself – learners with disabilities – to learn effectively and efficiently. “I know I struggle as a result of my disability sometimes, so that is why I want to assist other children with special needs to make their lives easier”, said Carol. She is living with dyslexia – this means she has difficulties with reading accurately and efficiently. Following her was a grade 12 learner by the name of Abongile Ngcosholo of Ndzondelelo High School. Abongile shared his experiences with his fellow peers and encouraged them to believe in themselves and start somewhere. Before concluding his speech, Abongile switched from delivering his message in English and turned to Xhosa (from this we get that English is no requisite to excel in Science. It is just a medium, a variable) and told his peers to pursue science studies at all costs. The venue erupted in applause and praises. To conclude, he had this to say; “You don’t need to be great to start; you need to start to be great”.