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Pupils will benefit from science labs

20 January 2014
Msindisi Fengu

THOUSANDS of Eastern Cape pupils at schools that do not have science laboratories are set to benefit from a deal to establish science centres in rural areas.

A memorandum of understanding was signed by Walter Sisulu University (WSU) and Siemens Stiftung, a Siemens foundation, in August last year.

The Eastern Cape Education Department is in the process of identifying the schools to be equipped with labs.

WSU’s director of its school of science, maths and technology, Dr Prince Jaca, who is also the coordinator of the project, said this was a breakthrough for the province.

Jaca said Siemens had shown confidence in WSU.

“They could have chosen any university in the Eastern Cape but they chose us,” he said.

He said Siemens had decided to partner with WSU to provide science equipment after former president Nelson Mandela asked the company’s global chief executive officer Peter Löscher in 2010 to build a high school in Mvezo.

President Jacob Zuma and Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga attended the official launch of the R100-million state- of-the-art Mvezo school last Friday.

Jaca said the Education Department had been roped in to assist in identifying areas where the science centres would be located – ideally centrally situated schools which could be equipped with laboratory equipment.

“It should only take [a maximum of] an hour for pupils in surrounding schools to travel to these centres. The department will identify these schools and invite teachers and pupils [to make use of the facility].”

Jaca said the university would provide its expertise in science teacher training and would benefit in gathering innovative methods to use in its teacher development programmes.

He said Siemens Stiftung would provide science equipment, developed by the German-based company Experimento, worth R50-million for use in the centres which would be in the Transkei and former Ciskei region.

The project is scheduled to be completed in 2016.

In a statement, Löscher was quoted as saying Siemens was involved because science development was the company’s core business.

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