6 September 2011
South Africa plans to increase the number of science centres in the country in order to help young people realise their full potential, Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor told the 6th Science Centre World Congress in Cape Town this week.
She said the centres would be capable of developing “effective” outreach programmes, aimed at peri-urban and rural areas where they could offer “valuable services”. At the moment, South Africa has 26 science centres in eight provinces.
“We are convinced that science centres are one of the most effective means available to help our youth reach their full potential in an informal learning environment,” she told delegates at the start of the 6th Science Centre World Congress at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.
“There is no doubt that a network of science centres would unleash the potential of millions of young African people, and promote science awareness on a continent that is rapidly embracing the digital age.
“We also value the role that science centres play in teacher empowerment and in training mathematics, science and technology teachers on the best ways to bring their subjects to life in the classroom.
“Science centres can also play a major role in encouraging the youth to follow careers in science and technology, and to know which career path would suit them best,” she said.
Key areas of public investment
Pandor said that there were five key areas of public investment in sciences in South Africa, including investments in space science and technology, biotechnology, building indigenous knowledge, and technology associated with climate change.
The Department of Science and Technology had created the South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement (SAASTA) to implement the policies of the department, and to carry out science awareness programmes of their own.
She highlighted that South Africa was ready to share with other African governments and non-profit organisations “the experience that we have gained in putting together and implementing policies that promote science centre development in our region.”
The well-attended conference is being held under the theme “Science Across Cultures”. Set to run for the next four days, the summit will have many exhibitions and is bound to be propelled by robust debate and discussions.