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

Autumn Graduation Ceremony a thrilling showcase
2013-04-19

 

Yolanda du Toit from the Department Student Academic Services is the proud mother of three daughters who all received qualifications at the Autumn Graduation. Maryke (left) received her certificate in Certified Financial Planning. She already has degrees in B.Com. Law and LLB. Amandi (centre) received her B.Ed and twin sister received her degree in consumer science.
Photo: Renè-Jean van der Berg
19 April 2013

Gareth Cliff video clip
Vicus and Vincent Visser video clip
Joshua Johnson video clip
Graduation YouTube video clip

Photo Gallery

The university’s Autumn Graduation Ceremony infused the Bloemfontein Campus with exhilaration last week.

Beaming with pride, graduates received 526 diplomas/certificates and 2 796 bachelor’s and honours degrees in total.

Prof Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector, lead each procession of graduates from the Red Square down the path to the Callie Human Centre while the beat of drums filled the air. “To break the cycle of poverty, get an education, get a degree,” Prof Jansen urged graduates during their respective ceremonies. He underscored the fact that, as graduates, they are ten times more likely to get a job, with the odds rising as they continue their postgraduate studies.

Dr Khotso Mohele, Chancellor of the university, advised graduates not to allow life’s obstacles to discourage them. “Take what you have learned over the last three or four years and use that knowledge to reach your goal,” he said. He also emphasised that graduates need to be able to take standpoint against issues.

Graduates’ ceremonies were made even more memorable by various local and international speakers and performers.

American student and tap-dancer, Joshua Johnson, inspired the audience with his story of hope and perseverance. As a student from Penn State University, he travels five hours by bus to New York every weekend where he dances on the subway train to earn money for his tuition fees. Joshua told graduates that, in order to achieve their goals, they have to make the best use of the 24 hours they get to live daily. “Don’t follow in the footsteps of someone else. Take the beat of life, but add your rhythm to it," his wise words resonated with the exhilarated graduates. The audience could not help but clap to the rhythmic beat of his tap-dancing performance.

Vicus Visser, dubbed Bloemfontein’s Justin Bieber was also on the list of performers. Vicus – a South African YouTube singing sensation – performed with his brother, Vincent, to the delight of the crowd.

Radio personality and Idols South Africa judge, Gareth Cliff, was also among the speakers who addressed the graduates during the week. “It’s a good time be alive, a good time to be a South African, a good time to be a qualified South African,” he said. “It’s a time in our country’s development that we require minds such as yours to propel us forward,” was part of his message. Gareth also stressed the freedom of speech in South Africa, especially the freedom of the media.

The Autumn Graduation Ceremony of 2013 was an immense success and filled the hearts of Kovsie graduates, students, staff, parents, family and friends with overwhelming pride.

The Qwaqwa Campus’ graduation ceremony will take place on 8 June 2013. Diplomas / certificates up to and including doctorates will be awarded at this ceremony.

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