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

State of our campuses
2016-05-13

16 May 2016: Qwaqwa Campus reopens on Wednesday 18 May 2016

The Qwaqwa Campus of the University of the Free State (UFS) will reopen residences on Wednesday 18 May 2016 from 12:00 for occupation by registered students.

 

12 May 2016: Qwaqwa Campus closed until further notice

Students and staff were instructed to leave the campus with immediate effect.

 

16 March 2016: Investigations into incidents on the Bloemfontein Campus: 22-26 February 2016

Investigations underway into incidents relating to the Varsity Cup rugby match at Xerox Shimla Park and all other criminal acts occurring during protest action

 

04 March 2016: Letter from Emma Sadleir, Social Media Law Consultant

Letter from Emma Sadleir, Social Media Law consultant

 

04 March 2016: Extension of the academic calendar

Academic calendar extended by one week

 

04 March 2016: UFS urges individuals to come forward with evidence

UFS urges individuals to come forward with evidence about incidents on the Bloemfontein Campus last week

 

29 February 2016: Confirmation of the security arrangements on the Bloemfontein and South Campuses for the week

As communicated yesterday, herewith confirmation of the security arrangements.

 

29 February 2016:  Statement by the senior leadership of the University of the Free State

Statement by the senior leadership of the University of the Free State regarding the situation on the Bloemfontein Campus

 

28 February 2016: Academic and security arrangements

Academic and security arrangements on the Bloemfontein and South Campuses for the coming week

 

28 February 2016: Letter to parents

Letter to parents from Prof Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the UFS

 

28 February 2016: Availability of academic and security arrangements

Information about academic and security arrangements on Bloemfontein and South Campuses will be communicated by 14:00.

 

25 February 2016: UFS management and contract workers reach agreement

Earlier today, the management of the University of the Free (UFS) reached an agreement with contract workers

 

24 February 2016: Kovsies gather in prayer

Kovsie students gathered at the Bloemfontein Campus Main Gate to unite in prayer

 

24 February 2016: UFS Bloemfontein and South Campuses closed from 25 to 26 February 2016

To reopen on Monday 29 February 2016

 

23 February 2016: A statement by Prof Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the University of the Free State (UFS)

Situation on the Bloemfontein Campus

 

23 February 2016: Situation on the UFS Bloemfontein Campus under control after further disruptions

The safety of students in residences on campus is the major concern for the senior leadership of the university

 

22 February 2016: Varsity Cup rugby match between FNB Shimlas and FNB NMMU Madibaz disrupted

The Varsity Cup match between the FNB Shimlas and FNB NMMU Madibaz was disrupted in the 17th minute when a group of protesters moved onto the field in order to disrupt the match already underway.

 

22 February 2016: UFS Bloemfontein and South Campuses closed from 23 to 24 February 2016

The University of the Free State’s (UFS) Bloemfontein and South Campuses will be closed from 23 to 24 February 2016.

 

22 February 2016: Update on situation on the Bloemfontein Campus

Striking outsourced contract workers have been demonstrating outside the Main Gate of the Bloemfontein Campus

21 February 2016:  Strike by outsourced contract workers on the Bloemfontein Campus

All academic and administrative services will continue as normal.

 

18 February 2016: Protest by contract workers on the Bloemfontein Campus

A group of mostly contract workers protested on the Bloemfontein Campus of the University of the Free State.


25 January 2016: No incidents on the three UFS campuses

Comparative figures still indicate that day-to-day registration compares well with that of 2015.

 

19 January 2016: Campus activities are continuing as normal

Registration process is progressing well 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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