Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor said at the 6th Science Centre World Congress which held in Cape Town last week that:
“we are convinced that science centres are one of the most effective means available to help our youth reach their full potential in an informal learning environment.
There is no doubt that a network of science centres would unleash the potential of millions of young African people, and promote science awareness on a continent that is rapidly embracing the digital age.
“We also value the role that science centres play in teacher empowerment and in training mathematics, science and technology teachers on the best ways to bring their subjects to life in the classroom. Science centres can also play a major role in encouraging the youth to follow careers in science and technology, and to know which career path would suit them best,” the minister said.
She said the centres would be capable of developing “effective” outreach programmes, aimed at peri-urban and rural areas where they could offer “valuable services.”
At the moment, she said that the country had 26 science centres in eight provinces and the plan was to up the figure.
She said that there were five key areas of public investment in sciences in South Africa including investments in space science and technology, biotechnology, building indigenous knowledge and technology associated with climate change.
The Science and Technology Department had created the South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement (SAASTA) to implement the policies of the department, and to carry out science awareness programmes of their own.
She said South Africa was ready to share with other African governments and non-profit organisations “the experience that we have gained in putting together and implementing policies that promote science-centre development in our region.”