SA: Pandor calls on communities to embrace science

Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor
Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor

Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor has appealed to the community of Reitz in the Free State to partner with government in embracing science as a tool for change in society.

“We want all of you to become full participants in building a new and thriving society in which every person can make a difference,” said the Minister.

She was speaking to residents, including learners, who had attended an imbizo organised by the Department of Science and Technology at the local Petsana Stadium on Saturday, to raise awareness about science and technology.

The Minister visited the area as part of government’s Imbizo Focus Week. She was accompanied by Telecommunications and Postal Services Minister Dr Siyabonga Cwele,  and  Free State Premier Ace Magashule, among others.

An imbizo is a platform in which community members interact directly with government officials to find solutions to service delivery challenges.

The programme is one of government’s platforms to deepen communication and the involvement of citizens in all aspects of public life that affect them directly.

Minister Pandor said that government is committed to creating a better life for all the country’s people while also urging the community to work alongside government in achieving this objective.

She told the community that South Africa was playing an important role in major international projects and making ground-breaking progress in research and development initiatives.

“After 21 years of democracy, the Department of Science and Technology and its entities have much to celebrate,” she said.

She added that the country had made strides in HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment through the Department’s collaboration with the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Several initiatives to promote science

The Minister also highlighted a number of projects that the Department was involved in, including the Wireless Mesh Network, the Dr Math online math-tutoring service and the Cofvimvaba Technology for Rural Education Development (TECH4RED) initiative. Other projects cover areas like protecting and exploiting indigenous knowledge resources.

Reitz is among the many areas in the country that the Minister has been visiting to highlight the benefits of science, technology and innovation in society, particularly to encourage learners to consider careers in this field as it would benefit the entire country.

Exhibitions were held alongside the imbizo to expose young people and the community to careers in science, as well as to practically demonstrate what science means in daily life.

Premier Magashule said the Free State government had invested in young men and women both in the institutions of higher learning and in the diaspora to develop, learn and innovate. However, there was a need to expand the space to showcase raw talent that could be moulded to determine future innovations.

“While we have flexed our muscles at the highest levels we must go back to our schooling system, both urban and rural. We must assert a new career path of using science and technology as an instrument for development,” said the Premier.

He said the starting point in the curriculum change was to do away with marginal systems such as “Computer Applications Technology” and mainstream learners into the real hardcore elements of Information Technology.

This, he said, requires government to spend sufficient resources in building community infrastructure to acquaint people with IT knowledge from early age.

The Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services, Dr Siyabonga Cwele said the Thabo Mofutshanyane District Municipality was one of the eight poor districts in the country identified in the government’s plan to rollout broadband.

“We are here to inform the community of Thabo Mofutshanyane how we plan to connect schools, post offices, health facilities, libraries and police stations to the Internet,” said Minister Cwele. He adding that the initiative would would ensure the district was not left out the digital revolution and called on people to take advantage of opportunities that were available in the field of ICT.

“The impact of excluding poor communities from ICT opportunities would be greater than the impact of apartheid,” said Minister Cwele.