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Young scientists, engineers vital for SA’s future

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Developing our country’s pipeline of young researchers, scientists and engineers is fundamental to our survival in a competitive and constantly evolving global village.
This is the word from Krishnie Naidoo, central regional co-ordinator for the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists 2016, who also believes professionals in these fields are critical to the nation’s economic wellbeing.
The Expo is a national science fair endorsed by the Departments of Basic Education, Science & Technology and Public Enterprises and is funded by Eskom.
The World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Information Technology Report 2016 ranked South Africa last in mathematics and science education quality.
South Africa also finished close to last – 137 out of 139 countries – when looking at the overall quality of its education system. The report ranks South Africa’s mathematics and science education quality lower than that of Nigeria, Mozambique, and Malawi.
This is the third year in a row that South Africa has finished last in the WEF’s mathematics and science education quality rankings.
The Expo is the country’s largest science fair for school students from grades five to 12, offering them a golden opportunity to showcase their innovation and ingenuity through projects about their own scientific investigations.
The aim is to stimulate youth interest and participation in fields related to Sciences, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Innovation (STEMI) through regional and national expositions which are hosted across 35 regions in all nine provinces.
The Central Region Expo in KwaZulu-Natal was presented in partnership with FFS Refiners, a key sponsor of the Durban event.
“We are passionate about improving learner performances in science, technology, engineering, maths and innovation (STEMI). We create platforms for learners to grow in their desired fields,” says Naidoo.
“Participants in the Expo are exposed to scientific investigative methods that are integrated in their project and this also equips them with problem solving skills.
“Despite the Expo being run by volunteers, there is 100% commitment to developing learners and gearing them towards success. We are proud of our learners’ achievements and we wish them well in the next stage, the national finals.”
About 550 learners from 35 regions will be selected to represent their provinces at the national competition to be held in Johannesburg at the Birchwood Conference Centre from 4 October to 7 October 2016.
Successful participants are awarded gold, silver and bronze medals as well as special awards and university bursaries in excess of R1,3-million. In addition, selected projects will qualify to participate at various International Science Fairs.