A multi-million rand centre to promote science, technology, and innovation has been launched in the Eastern Cape. The centre also offers courses in the study of space, science, and astronomy as well as teacher development programmes.
Higher Education, Science, and Innovation Minister Dr Blade Nzimande opened the centre on Thursday.
It is the first of its kind in the Eastern Cape. Apart from promoting science, the centre in Cofimvaba is also expected to provide job opportunities for the youth and promote indigenous knowledge through science.
Dr Nzimande says the centre is going to support and benefit many rural schools in the area.
“Part of the aim is also to excite young people to experience and to feel what science is, that’s another important aspect of it but also one of the most crucial dimensions is that this is going to act as a science centre to support many schools in the locality with the connectivity that is there. Some of the subjects and lectures and periods being offered centrally.”
Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane says this is going to help bridge the digital gap for rural learners.
“It’s also going to help us to really optimise the usage of it with getting universities to stop being ivory towers as you see that we already have a couple of universities inside here showcasing. So, we are quite happy that in these deep rural areas we have a centre like this that is able to help us to really bridge this digital divide that we have been talking about.”
Learners say they are happy because they will have access to technology, and the centre will broaden their knowledge on career choices in the science field. “This will help us more because it will cost us less, we won’t need to go to other provinces for science. We only have to come here do our experiments at a cheaper cost,” says one of the learners. ”
Another learner says; “Everything here is practical and there might be a festival competition that will inspire more learners to pursue their learning in science.”‘
The Director of the Teacher Development Programme Daan Jonker says nearby rural schools will be able to borrow equipment from the centre.
“We are going to have a scheme where teachers from science projects will be able to come and borrow some equipment from the centre, take it to the school, do the experiment that is needed for the curriculum, bring it back so that other schools can also benefit from that.”
Premier Oscar Mabuyane says more projects like this are in the pipeline for other areas in the Eastern Cape.