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

Dean of Law appointed for second term as acting judge in the Free State High Court
2017-02-17

Description: Prof Nicholson  Tags: Prof Nicholson

Prof Caroline Nicholson, Dean of the Faculty of Law

The Dean of the Faculty of Law, Prof Caroline Nicholson, has been re-appointed by the Judge President of the Free State High Court, Judge Mahube Molemela, to serve a full term in 2017 as an acting judge. This will be her second term, as she served in the same position in early 2016, and it is such, a testament to her outstanding work. Her re-appointment is a source of pride not only to the University of the Free State, but the city of Bloemfontein, and the region as a whole.

Since taking up the position of Dean in 2015, Prof Nicholson has demonstrated exceptional leadership, and continues to take great strides in developing the Faculty’s internal and external programmes. “I am delighted that the University has facilitated my taking advantage of this opportunity. During this term, I will be exposed to a diversity of legal matters both civil and criminal, some of which I was not exposed to during my previous acting period. The exposure to the practical aspects of the law from the perspective of the Bench will inform my decisions regarding curriculum review and development, at a time when the faculty is actively engaged in ensuring that curriculum content is both relevant and context-appropriate,” said Prof Nicholson.

She adds that her appointment as acting judge will strengthen the Faculty’s positive relationship with the legal profession and, especially with the Bench. It will also benefit the Faculty, its staff and students.  In 2015, the Faculty partnered with the International Association of Women Judges (Free State Chapter), to host a dinner, which will be hosted again this month. The association brought to the fore new ventures into the involvement of women judges in an advisory capacity and sharing of expertise. In 2016, members of the association began to enact this role.

Judge Molemela and Judge Azhar Cachalia of the Supreme Court of Appeal accepted appointments to the Advisory Board of the Free State Centre for Human Rights. Judge Khalipi “Jake” Moloi of the Free State High Court in Bloemfontein, gave trial advocacy tips to teachers, coaching the Schools Moot Court Competition. Prof Nicholson said: “It is hoped that more opportunities will arise to increase interaction between students and the judiciary, both are eager for this to happen. I am also learning a great deal and am once again enjoying the collegial and supportive environment that my colleagues create at the High Court.”

Prof Nicholson holds an LLD from University of South Africa, and has published several research articles in accredited journals, with a special interest in Family Law and children’s rights.

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