The Minister of Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor, has commended ScifestAfrica for succeeding in making science and its role in the world accessible to young people in the country.

Speaking at  the official opening of Scifest Africa 2016 in Grahamstown last night, Minister Pandor said science engagement activities such as Scifest were the best way to create excitement among pupils.

"The main purpose of Scifestis to introduce young people to the exciting world of science and technology and to encourage them to choose to be part of this community of science and innovation", she said.

Scifest is Africa's biggest annual science festival aimed at engaging the public in interactive events that teach about science, technology, engineering, mathematics and innovation in an informal way, encouraging young people to study in these fields. The festival has grown tremendously since the first instalment in 1997 when it 15 000 visitors. Scifest 2015 received more than 58 000 visitors and this number is expected to increase even more this year.

The Minister said that these activities also inspired scientists like, Kevin Govender, the first South African to be awarded the prestigious Edinburgh Medal, a prestigious award given each year to men and women of science and technology whose professional achievements have made a significant contribution to the understanding and well-being of humanity.

One of the most prominent scientists in South Africa, Professor Tshilidzi Marwala, was also inspired to pursue studies in science and technology and today he is a Deputy Vice Chancellor at the University of Johannesburg.

Prof Marwala won the National Science Olympiad back in 1989. He was latera delegate to the Youth Science Week and the London International Youth Science Forum and those two events really kindled his interest in science.

"These examples affirm that if we wish to continue to do well in science and innovation we must create a much larger science, engineering and technology human-capital pipeline that starts at the schooling level," the Minister implored, saying science, engineering and technology awareness campaigns were the best way to create excitement among pupils.

Minister Pandor urged schools to initiate science activities that would help learners do well in maths and science.

"You, the learners present here, have time to work hard and to succeed in science technology and engineering. You live in a time in which there are immense possibilities for all young people. I hope you will use the festival to learn about science careers and to think about contributing to building a great South Africa."

Issued by the Department of Science and Technology.

Enquiries

Lunga Ngqengelele

MLO

082 566 0446