Winners of the First DStv Eutelsat Star Awards Announced

More Than 800 Students From Across Africa Respond to the Challenge of Creative Thinking in Science and Technology.

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Following the meeting in South Africa of a prestigious jury chaired by Professor George Smoot, Nobel Prize laureate in 2006 and astrophysicist, the winners have been announced of the first edition of the DStv Eutelsat Star Awards, initiated by MultiChoice Africa and Eutelsat in collaboration with Mindset Learn.

The DStv Eutelsat Star Awards is an initiative to encourage young students in 42 African countries to embrace science and technology, and to encourage creative thinking on applications that can support the development of the African continent. Students were invited to write an essay or design a poster on satellite technology and how it can assist further development of their communities, country or the African continent.

Of over 800 entries from across Africa, the final jury reviewed a shortlist of essays and posters preselected by national juries. They included Kidanemarriam Belew from Ethiopia, Vitumbiko Chingwere from Malawi, Sandile Dube from Swaziland, Chukwuka Ekweani and Oluwaseyi Oloyede from Nigeria, Shanen Ganapathee from Mauritius, Mary Misumire and Rebecca Nalwanga from Uganda, Tofunmi Olagoke from South Africa and Michael Yeboah from Guinea.

The jury commented on the extremely high level of these entries and awarded the Ugandan student, Mary Misumire first prize in the Best Entry Award category. Her essay, Looking to the sky for answers, impressed the judges with its creativity and innovation. Mary has won a trip for two people to experience live a rocket launch, and to visit Eutelsat in France. Runner-up Best Overall Award went to Michael Yeboah from Guinea for his poster. Michael wins a trip for two people to Eutelsat in France. The jury assigned a Merit Award to the Mauritian student Shanen Ganapathee for her essay entry, and to Tofunmi Olagoke from South Africa for his poster entry. Both Merit Awards win a trip to South Africa to visit MultiChoice Africa and Mindset Learn’s satellite broadcast facilities.

The jury assembled for this first event was chaired by Professor George Smoot, with Dr Phethiwe Matutu, Chief Director South African Department of Science and Technology; Lauren Beukes, novelist and winner of the 2011 Arthur C. Clarke Award for her novel ‘Zoo City: Nadi Albino, Chief of Education UNICEF South Africa, and Professor Amadi Ihunwo, Head Morphological Anatomy, Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of the Witwatersrand.

Impressed by this new initiative, Professor Smoot, whose long-term interest for African education is witnessed by his Education Foundation, the Global Teachers Academy (GTA) and his engagement for the African Institute for Mathematical Science, said: “Young people and education are key to Africas future, and science in particular can play a powerful role in development. I am delighted and honoured to have been involved in this new initiative which aims at promoting science and technology in schools. As jury chairman, I was inspired by the quality of the entries. The winning essay showed passion and demonstrated a good understanding of satellites. There were accurate details of how satellites can be used, from managing climate change and natural resources to their uses in urban planning. We liked Marys out-of-the-box thinking and creative expression. The second best essay entry, well-written by Shanen, displayed an excellent and in-depth knowledge of satellites and their use for Africa. Well done to all the contestants.”

Collins Khumalo, President of MultiChoice Africa, added: As a business born and bred in Africa, MultiChoice Africa is keenly aware of the challenges faced by many countries across the continent – specifically in terms of access to ICTs and the development of science and technology.  With education as a key focus of our corporate social investment programmes, our decision to initiate this competition with Eutelsat and Mindset Learn created a natural synergy which was able to stimulate education and interest around satellites and their possible applications in Africa.  An investment in the youth is an investment in the future – and we believe that education in the area of science and technology will make a fundamental difference to this future.”

Michel de Rosen, CEO of Eutelsat Communications, added: “At Eutelsat, we believe that our responsibility as a satellite operator is to deploy infrastructure that enables information and communication to be available to as many people as possible. There can be no sustainable development in high technology environments without increasing the number of engineers, technicians and teachers to build an inclusive digital environment. The high level of participation and the quality of the entries in this first edition is very encouraging and motivates us to pursue initiatives that can stimulate young African minds to think about new technologies that will drive economic and social progress.

The Awards leveraged MultiChoice’s Resource Centres which have been established in over 1000 schools across Sub-Saharan Africa to provide educational channels such as National Geographic, the History Channel and Mindset Learn to schools via satellite, and to train teachers to use this programming to enhance teaching and learning.

Source – Sacramento BeePress release – Eutelsat Communications, September 21,  2011