President Jacob Zuma has called on more youth to take up mathematics and science, saying South Africa will be guaranteed an economically bright future.
“Through producing more science and technology graduates, we are assured of a bright future economically. It means our economy will have all the scientists, technologists, engineers, artisans and other skills that we need for economic development,” Zuma said.
He was addressing the finalists of the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists at Sefako Makgatho Presidential Guest House on 1 November 2013.
Zuma said the other benefit of having more people trained in the sciences was having the expertise needed to prevent and cure diseases and to fight poverty through better agricultural methods.
“While the education system in our country is gearing itself to provide the required maths and science teaching, we need support beyond the school yard,” said the President.
The expo is a partnership between Eskom and the Department of Science and Technology, where students are given a chance to show others their projects based on their own scientific investigations. It aims to encourage young people, especially black female learners, to take interest in careers in science and maths.
Zuma said government’s challenge was to make the science and maths exciting to the youth.
“You are shining examples and I hope others will be encouraged to take up the subjects… Go out there and explore the world, as your young minds hold the key to the future of this country.”
He said from the pool of finalists, South Africa was guaranteed a bright future.
“You indicate that the country has potential… our future is bright and [we are]going places.”
Among the finalist were Grade 12 pupils Pule Laitile and Mawethu Ndiki from Harmony High School in Welkom. They researched the behaviour of water drops, looking at the effects of gravity, temperature and time.
The two told SAnews that their project, named Falling Water Droplets, stood out and won the Best High School Science Project 2013.
Pule wants to study electrical or chemical engineering after matric, while Mawethu wants to venture into a career in mathematics and help other youngsters with maths.
“I got interested in science because I want to know how things work around me,” said Pule.
Other finalists, Glenn Makhoba and Peter Theron, showcased the possibility of a low-cost power station using air, which in turn will reduce the unavailability of electricity to communities.
Jason Benjamin, from South Peninsula High School, developed a vibrating belt for blind athletes, which could help to keep them on track and improve running speed.
Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba commended the learners, saying they were taking full advantage of the opportunities government was representing to them.
Judging from the innovative ideas, Gigaba said the country’s future was “bright and intelligent”.
Eskom Group Executive Steve Lennon encouraged the learners to explore the different careers in science, technology, maths and innovation, while also developing problem-solving skills for their schools, homes and communities for specific challenges.
The day’s proceedings took place under the auspices of National Children’s Day. In South Africa, the first Saturday of November every year is National Children’s Day. This year, National Children’s Day will take place under the theme ‘Sireletsa Bana [Protect the children]: Creating a Caring Society’.
The main celebrations will take place in KwaZulu-Natal and will highlight progress made towards the realisation and promotion of children’s rights.