Latest News Archive

Please select Category, Year, and then Month to display items
Years
2017 2018 2019 2020
Previous Archive
17 April 2019 | Story Leonie Bolleurs
Science ambassadors
Friends Tekano Mbonani and Chaka Mofokeng are pursuing graduate degrees in respectively Physics at the University of the Free State (UFS) and Astronomy at the University of the Western Cape. The two got together and decided to reach out to the high school, Leseding Technical Secondary School, where they came from.

It was a full house as more than 120 learners packed the hall at the Leseding Technical Secondary School in the Free State, where two young Astronomy researchers had come home to tell their younger peers about their studies and career prospects across South Africa.

Chaka Mofokeng and Tekano Mbonani are both former learners at the high school. Currently pursuing graduate degrees – for Mbonani in Physics at the University of the Free State (UFS), and for Mofokeng in Astronomy at the University of the Western Cape – the two friends got together and decided to reach out to the high school where they came from.

The event took place in January before schoolwork, tests, and exam preparations are occupying learners’ minds, inviting them to think about the big picture – the future, and how to be part of it. This is timely, because in July last year, the MeerKAT radio telescope was inaugurated in the Karoo. The MeerKAT is the first step to the international SKA telescope project, but it is already one of the best radio telescopes in the world and has placed South Africa firmly on the world map of radio astronomy and engineering.

Building a bridge
“This project enables us to build a bridge between secondary and tertiary institutions. Currently focused on senior secondary students, we aim to promote science through outreach events and activities. Using science and technology-based activities and events, such as stargazing at an observatory or exploring the universe in a planetarium, we want to attract these future secondary graduates. We also provide mentorship, hoping to help them improve their academic performance in matric,” said Mbonani.

For a whole morning, they spoke about their journeys, about science, about the skills that scientists acquire during their studies and all the opportunities such studies open up in an era where the 4th Industrial Revolution is predicted to reduce the number of jobs in many traditional professions. They addressed their peers in both English and Sesotho.

Astronomy in South Africa contributes to critical-skills development. Investing in the MeerKAT, for example, meant that over a thousand bursaries were made available through the SKA South Africa Human Capacity Development programme. Young scientists like Mofokeng and Mbonani have the opportunity to be part of MeerKAT science projects through their studies, using machine learning and other skills that are high in demand in today’s world. This was one of the messages they brought home.

Gaining new skills

“As an Astronomy research student, I have gained skills such as data analysis, mathematical modelling, communication and writing, programming, and teamwork, among others. These are requirements for most companies and institutions. With the unfolding of the 4th Industrial Revolution, such skills sets make young and aspiring scientists the perfect candidates for making the most of future opportunities,” reflected Mofokeng.

Most of the learners said they have never attended a science-outreach event. They were inspired by the young scientists’ stories and nearly half of them said they could see themselves pursuing a career in science. The learners also expressed a strong interest in more events of this kind, as well as mentorship during Grades 11 and 12 from peers at university. They asked about the salaries earned by astronomers, how long the studies take, and where astronomers are working in South Africa.

This initiative, started by two bright young scientists, hopefully marks the beginning of many more events of this kind. Mofokeng and Mbonani are already planning what to do on their next trip home.

News Archive

Future Kovsies explore Qwaqwa Campus
2017-05-26

Description: Qwaqwa Campus Open day 2017 Tags: Qwaqwa Campus Open day 2017

Description: Qwaqwa Open Day learners Tags: Qwaqwa Open Day learners

Learners from Molapo Secondary School in
Makoane, Qwaqwa, during Open Day.
Photo: Thabo Kessah

AMAZING! This is just one of the words used by prospective Kovsies to describe their experience, when thousands of learners visited the Qwaqwa Campus for this year’s Open Day on Saturday 20 May 2017.

“Spending time on campus and learning what the university offers even beyond academics was such an amazing experience,” said a prospective Political Studies and Governance student, Kamohelo Mofokeng from Bluegumbosch Secondary School in Qwaqwa.

“We explored both academic and support services, and getting to see and listen to motivating words from eTV stars was unforgettable,” she added. “The event was informative and many of our learners even managed to apply online using university facilities,” said Modiehi Masita, Life Orientation teacher at Tsebo Secondary School in Boiketlo, Qwaqwa.

First step in the right direction

Talking to learners, Campus Principal Prof Prakash Naidoo said their visit was the first step in the right direction.

“This is the first step towards attaining your dream qualification. You have to work hard to build yourself a career, and not aspire to be what is commonly known as a tenderpreneur,” he said. “You have come to this campus when men need to stand up and not bury their heads in the sand, as we are faced with abuse and killings of women and children. We must all stand up to abuse,” he said under resounding appreciation from learners and their teachers.

Also talking to the learners were TV stars from eTv’s Rhythm City and Scandal.

I can and I will make it
‘I can and I will make it’ led by Mapula Mafole was adopted as the war cry towards the examinations and success in life for the class of 2017. Mafole plays the role of Mapula in the TV series Rhythm City. She was accompanied by Ishmael Sango and Nkosi Cengane, who respectively play Sabelo and Emmanuel in Rhythm City, and Mbulelo Katise who plays Scelo in Scandal.

Qwaqwa Campus alumnus and hip-hop artist, TactixSA, provided entertainment.

We use cookies to make interactions with our websites and services easy and meaningful. To better understand how they are used, read more about the UFS cookie policy. By continuing to use this site you are giving us your consent to do this.

Accept