Learners living in rural areas struggle to make career decisions because they lack access to information, and the Department of Science and Technology is trying to give them a better idea of possibilities.


In partnership with the North West University's Science Centre and the South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement, the DST hosted a career day in the Delareyville Community Hall in Tswaing Municipality on 3 May 2019.  The initiative was aimed at creating awareness about space and other science, and teaching learners and the public about its value.


About 600 learners from seven schools in the area attended the event, held under the theme, "The role of space science and technology in the Fourth Industrial Revolution".


Illustrating the theme, the DST's Chief Director: Space Science and Technology, Humbulani Mudau, captured the pupils' attention by explaining the Global Positioning System (GPS).


"The majority of us drove from Pretoria to Delareyville for the first time today, so we had to use GPS," said Mudau. "GPS is actually a space technology that uses the positioning of satellites. Without this instrument, life would not be so easy."


Mudau told learners how weather forecasts relied on space science and fascinated them with information on satellite operators and communication service providers like Eutelsat and Intelsat, which used instruments orbiting the Earth thousands of kilometres above its surface.


He went on to describe how agriculture used satellite technology.


"Today's tractors have built-in GPS and other sophisticated systems to assist farmers.  They can calculate precisely how much diesel the vehicle needs to cover a particular field and how much seed is required, as well as estimating yields. We call this sort of agricultural practice precision farming. Commercial farmers also use satellite trackers to protect their livestock."


Mudau told his young audience that these technologies were part of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which was characterised by a fusion of technologies linking the physical, digital and the biospheres.


"You can pursue all the careers associated with the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and you have no reason to doubt that you can achieve this," he said.  "All you have to do is study hard at subjects such as mathematics and science."


Manketsi Tlhape, North West MEC for Rural, Environment and Agricultural Development, lauded the DST's efforts.  She said the many exhibitions exposed learners to opportunities they never knew existed.  She encouraged them surpass the 2018 matric pass rate of 78%.


Geysdorp Secondary School pupils were rivetted by the exhibitions. Grade 9 learner Refilwe Manabe was impressed by the South African Police Service demonstration on forensic science.


"They showed how they use different scientific methods to solve murders and rapes," he enthused.


Refilwe and fellow students Oratile Rabaji, Karabo Mokwena and Onalerona Mjamba were particularly interested in the exhibit on nuclear science.


"I thought nuclear was used only in war and destructive mechanics. I only learnt today that its also used in medicine," said Oratile.


The career expo included science talks, workshops and quizzes.