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

Diversity gains ground in SRC election
2005-08-19

 

The University of the Free State (UFS) reached another milestone in its transformation process last night (Tuesday 16 August 2005) when a more diverse group of students than ever before were elected to serve on the Main Campus SRC.  

In addition to this, the UFS experienced a smooth and problem-free election process – unlike recent years when the Main Campus SRC elections were frequently disrupted or marred by attempts of intimidation or obstruction.

The election took place on Monday 15 August 2005 and the results were announced last night (Tuesday 16 August 2005) by Dr Ezekiel Moraka, Vice-Rector:  Student Affairs at the UFS.

Seven black students are to serve on the Main Campus SRC, the highest number of black students ever to be elected on the Main Campus SRC since black students were admitted to the UFS in the late 1980’s. 

Nine of the 18 SRC members were directly elected and nine on the basis of proportional representation (PR).   The PR system was introduced after amendments to the constitution of the Main Campus SRC were approved by the UFS Council in June 2005. 

According to Dr Moraka the elections on the Main Campus were a resounding success.  “We received double the amount of votes this year: A total of 4 846 votes were cast, while 396 votes were spoilt.  Last year only 2 192 votes were cast,” said Dr Moraka.

Dr Moraka said that there were no disruptions of the process and no objections regarding the voting process were received.

Mr Graeme Bradley, thirdyear student in B Com Human Resource Management, was elected as SRC President of the Main Campus for 2005/2006.  Mr Bradley was SRC representative for Sports, Arts and Culture in 2004/2005.

In the PR section of the election, Here XVII (with 36,1% of  the vote) and Sasco (with 36% of the vote) received an equal amount of seats (3) for the SRC.  These percentages also provided them with fourteen (14) seats for the Student Parliament, which consists of 40 seats. 

“This outcome is significant to us as, for the first time we have a clear indication of what the actual support of these affiliated organisations is on campus,” said Dr Moraka.  


Media release

Issued by:  Lacea Loader
   Media Representative
   Tel:  (051) 401-2584
   Cell:  083 645 2454
   E-mail:  loaderl.stg@mail.uovs.ac.za

17 August 2005
 

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