South African Radio Astronomy Observatory focuses on recruiting more black graduates
SARAO spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe said: “Our science and engineering teams are now made up of 81% black South Africans. Of the 21 graduates who have completed their three-year internship, 16 have been employed in permanent positions.
“Employment of SARAO-supported postgraduates includes 24% absorbed by SARAO, 37% by South African universities and national facilities, and 19% go into the science and engineering industry within the country.
“The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project is a scientific project that requires a range of scientific and technical expertise, and such skills can only be developed from a cohort of learners who are studying maths and science.
“Since inception of the Human Capital Development programme in 2005, SARAO has awarded 1217 bursaries to students in the fields of science and engineering, as well as artisans and technicians.
“Currently, 572 scholars are being supported to train as researchers from Masters, doctoral, and post-doctoral level in radio astronomy-related science and engineering. In addition,195 students have been trained as artisans and technicians,” said Phasiwe.
According to one education expert, to boost science education children need to be shown how subjects such as science, technology, engineering and maths fit into industry and the rest of the world.
Educationist Edwell Gumbo said: “There is a narrative in society as a whole that maths and science are difficult subjects and only for the ‘smart children’, and we need to get rid of this and teach our children that maths and science, like life, are not easy, but they can be an exciting challenge.”
Kerry Mauchline, spokesperson for education MEC Debbie Schäfer, said: “Science education is one of our core priorities.
“This focus is applied both in the curriculum (and ensuring teachers are supported to deliver the science curriculum) and in ensuring that science laboratories are set up to excite learners about the field, with the necessary resources to succeed.”@MwangiGithahu