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21st World Economic Forum on Africa commences

The 21st World Economic Forum on Africa, which is to be attended by in excess of 900 participants from 60 countries, commences in Cape Town.

The three-day conference will focus on precisely how sub-Saharan Africa can maintain its growth path and turn into one of the pillars of global growth and demand.

To be organised within the subject, Shaping Africa’s Role in the New Reality, the conference is going to take place against the background of the growing global acknowledgment of Africa’s development potential.

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, the lead minister for WEF, remarked that in redefining the nation’s association with the world, South Africa’s message was indeed shifting beyond the focus on its abundant cultural diversity.

“We are currently showcasing our accomplishments in the areas of science, technological innovation, financial services and our acknowledgement as a systemically crucial member of the international community.

“In our hosting of WEF Africa, we will with certainty declare that South Africa is definitely responding to the new reality,” he said.

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan

Gordhan mentioned the nation is without a doubt perfectly positioned in the changing poles of power and economic growth, not merely as an emerging market, but more as a leading economy on a continent this is certainly an invaluable partner within the global economy as well as being home to roughly 15 percent of the world’s population.

“All of us are formidable supporters of inclusive growth, job creation, and the diversification of the economy,” the minister claimed.

He added the fact that South Africa has been actively taking part and adding to positions developed in global policy making.

“We may also be assuming a progressively more significant place in the global arena. We are one of the non-permanent members on the United Nations Security Council, the sole African nation to be a member of the G20, as well as not too long ago, we have obtained a seat at the table of the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa forum (BRICS), which, with its inhabitants in excess of 3 billion people, functions as a significant platform for global dialogue and cooperation.”

Certainly one of concerns to be talked about at the WEF Africa will most certainly be just how African economies will be able to mitigate their exposure to the volatility and unpredictability in commodity prices and ways in which the continent can bolster its voice in multilateral community forums much like the G20 and the Seventeenth Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 17). The COP 17 conference is going to be organised in Durban in December.

President Jacob Zuma

As being the largest economic system on the continent, South Africa has long been and definitely will continue to utilize its seat on multilateral fora, along with the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the G20, to boost Africa’s interests.

South Africa will in addition take advantage of its membership of BRICS to improve Africa’s voice in the world.

Africa’s enhanced economic prospects have mainly been due to steps undertaken by African nations themselves to get rid of political conflicts, improve governance and develop improved macroeconomic conditions.

Despite the fact that Africa will definitely reap the benefits of globalisation, which is certainly most likely to spur demand for commodities, the continent’s expansion into the future will probably be influenced by social and demographic shifts currently underway.

The South African Government delegation to WEF Africa will be headed by President Jacob Zuma, who is going to be accompanied by the following ministers:

* Pravin Gordhan: Minister of Finance
* Trevor Manuel: Minister of National Planning: The Presidency
* Rob Davies: Minister of Trade & Industry
* Ebrahim Patel: Minister of Economic Development
* Tina Joemat-Pettersson: Minister of Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries
* Malusi Gigaba: Minister of Public Enterprise
* Marthinus van Schalkwyk: Minister of Tourism
* Dipuo Peters: Minister of Energy
* Edna Molewa: Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs
* Naledi Pandor: Minister of Science and Technology

Several South African business people will in addition participate in the WEF conference.

Source: BuaNews


Educated Africans educate South African children

Educated African refugees are assisting a large number of children in Cape Town’s underprivileged towns and cities to master science and mathematics, as a result of an educational initiative referred to as Leap.

Every weekend approximately 800 students ranging from Grades 10 to 12 go to the southern suburb of Pinelands for tutoring in these subject areas. On weekday afternoons, tutors visit Leap Learning Centres within the townships to work alongside as much as 840 Grade 8 and 9 children from 12 educational institutions in Cape Town’s disadvantaged suburbs.

Each of these centres are actually an outreach project managed and operated by the Leap Science and Maths School, the purpose is to completely transform educationally disadvantaged local communities. You can find 58 tutors carrying out work at the centres, 10% of whom happen to be South African. The others are a diversified combination coming from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Burundi, Botswana and Zimbabwe.

The project along with Leap School were set up at the same time in 2004.

In the beginning tutors signed up with the program on an unpaid voluntary basis. In a matter of a couple of months Leap founder John Gilmour ended up being overcome as a result of the tutors’ commitment and competency, and consequently decided to source suitable investment. The tutors at this moment take home a minimal daily stipend of R110 (US$16).

For the reason that mathematics and science in many cases are regarded as challenging, pupils frequently select less difficult subject areas in order to avoid jeopardising their matric exemptions. Unfortunately without having these particular subjects, pupils’ options available for tertiary study tend to be significantly restricted.

Pupils participating in the Saturday morning program are generally thankful for the supplemental help and support.

“They teach you a lot better than our regular teachers. If you do not fully understand, they try to find out from you just what you are having difficulties with,” said Asemahle Mlanga, a 17-year-old pupil coming from the close by seaside resort town of Strand.


Phaphama Maoblo, also in Grade 11, remarked, “My test results have actually improved very well. There’s no doubt that they are a great benefit to South African children.”

“I think it is intriguing that there exists this many students who happen to be desperate when it comes to a quality education, and will definitely invest their own personal financial resources and time to come here on Saturday,” said Mark Medema, president of Washington DC-based NGO EdVillage, as he observed a Saturday class. “I really don’t believe this occurs in the US.”


Amazing advantages for everyone

South Africa’s public education system is hindered due to the absence or unavailability of qualified and competent teachers, making the contribution of these educated people from other countries incredibly beneficial.

The tutoring program has not simply helped pupils but has additionally been crucial in assisting refugees to be able to integrate into South Africa.

Sammy Ntumba, head of the Leap Learning Centre Project, left the DRC in 2003 to come to South Africa. He got here accompanied by a degree in chemical engineering and metallurgy, unfortunately his qualification was not accepted in this country.

Ntumba commenced postgraduate studies at the University of Cape Town (UCT), but found it necessary to discover a way of sustaining himself, in addition to financing his studies. His very first job had been handing out advertising flyers at a traffic light. Shortly after, he found employment as a night security guard within an affluent Cape Town suburb. It had been tedious and exhausting work and he ended up becoming more and more disheartened and discouraged as a result of the absence of stimulation.

In 2004, he noticed an advert at UCT for volunteer tutors in township learning centres. Seven years later, the programme has taken his personal life in a completely new direction. He has had the opportunity to bring his wife and son to reside with him in South Africa, and has made a decision to carry on with a profession in social development, as opposed to engineering.

According to Ntumba, “We are unquestionably educated. It is especially essential to transfer that to others. If I don’t do it, I will die with that knowledge. It is not costing us gold and silver, it costs nothing, rather it is actually an important thing that we are carrying out.”

Ntumba’s account echos that of a large number of his fellow workers at Leap. Most have had the opportunity to abandon their security jobs, complete their studies and commence earning a living with South African companies, and in some cases, educational institutions.



Dr Zelo Mangombo, also from the DRC, arrived in South Africa in 2000 having a degree in education, along with honours in chemistry. Last year he managed to obtain his doctorate in chemistry at the University of the Western Cape.

Despite having his new qualifications and skills, Mangombo keeps on working and teaching at Leap. “Since I have been here I have observed superb improvements,” he said. “Typically the children are receptive and ready to learn. They happen to be committed to their work.”


Quality education for disadvantaged pupils

When Leap training first became available and opened its doors in 2004, it accepted 72 Grade 11 and 12 pupils. It presently has four campuses, two in the Western Cape in Langa and Gugulethu, and two in Gauteng in Alexandra and Diepsloot. Each campus has 170 pupils, of whom 69% are girls.

Last year South Africa attained a national matric pass rate of 67.8%. Of those pupils, 23.5% received a university entrance. The national pass rate for science was 48%, and 47% for mathematics.

Leap is without a doubt rendering a considerable contribution to quality education in South Africa. In 2003 merely 55 African language-speaking Western Cape pupils obtained university entrance levels in mathematics and science. This past year, Leap’s 107 Grade 12 pupils accomplished a 98% overall pass rate. Every one of these children wrote mathematics and science, attaining a 98% and 90% pass rate in these subjects respectively. Six pupils received distinctions in mathematics, and also for the very first time, three distinctions were obtained for science.

Three quarters of Leap’s graduates at the moment are pursuing tertiary studies.

Additionally there is a teacher training module for students currently taking their teaching degrees via correspondence. The five-year programme is designed to provide Leap teachers the main benefit of a comprehensive understanding of their particular selected subjects, and improved communication skills to enable them to more effectively interact with their pupils.

Source: mediaclubsouthafrica.com,


SA Education to focus on teachers, textbooks and time

President Jacob Zuma

The Department of Education will focus this year on the three “Ts” – teachers, textbooks and time – in its endeavors to improve as well as expand public education in South Africa.

“We reiterate our call that teachers must be at school, in class, on time, teaching for at least seven hours a day,” Zuma told Parliament in Cape Town.

“The administration needs to ensure that each and every child has a textbook in a timely manner, and that we assist our teachers to produce the right working environment when it comes to quality teaching to take place.”

Zuma said that the government will continue and is committed to investing in teacher training, especially in mathematics and science. “We will pay special attention to the training of principals, particularly those in under performing schools.”

To track progress, the government this past year began annual national assessments in literacy and numeracy, that happen to be internationally benchmarked, for Grades 3, 6 and 9.

These types of assessments are going to be written at the beginning of every year to test levels of performance, based on what pupils ought to have reached at the end of the previous grade.

Through these tests, the Basic Education Department is expecting that teachers will use the individual results to inform their lessons and provide all of them with a clear picture of where each individual child needs more attention.

Previously, assessment tests were set provincially and administered at any time dutring the year. But from this year, all students within each grade are going to write the same paper countrywide in Grades 1 to 9.

Zuma said that the government would work on extending access to education and learning, particularly for the children of less fortunate parents who are unable financially to provide better education.

“This includes the conversion of loans into bursaries for qualifying final year students. Individuals in Further Education and Training Colleges who are eligble for financial aid will be exempted from paying fees,” the President said.

Additionally, Zuma urged state-owned enterprises to take on a greater role in skills development, saying this certainly will produce much-needed technical skills for the country’s economy.

Source: BuaNews, sasix.co.za, jumo.com,


South Africa enters space race with launch of new space agency

South Africa has decided to have its own space agency to promote and also coordinate space science and technology programmes in the nation.

The long-awaited South African National Space Agency (Sansa) is going to be launched in Midrand, Johannesburg, on 9 December 2010.

Sansa’s National Space Strategy will be presented right away to put South Africa among global frontrunners in space science and technology.

A parliamentary Act to establish Sansa had been passed in December 2008, and ever since then the Department of Science and Technology has been spending so much time to make the body a reality.

“The South African National Space Agency will coordinate and integrate national space science and technology programmes and conduct long-term planning for the implementation of space-related activities in South Africa,” said the department’s spokesperson Lunga Ngqengelele in a statement.

The agency is without a doubt expected to fast-track South Africa’s position in global space ventures. The Department of Science and Technology said one of the main goals of Sansa will certainly be to strongly encourage the peaceful use of outer space.

It’s also anticipated that Sansa will help to make it simpler for South African bodies to carry out their own astronomy research. The administration wants the agency to stimulate cooperation on space-related projects between the nation and the global community.

Global space agreements

The Department of Science and Technology said international deals will certainly be signed at the launch, as well as an inter-agency cooperative agreement together with the Algerian Space Agency on space science and technology.

A memorandum of understating will be agreed upon between Sansa and the National Institute for Space Research of Brazil and the China Centre for Resources Satellite Data and Application.

Mark Shuttelworth

A major deal will additionally be clinched to permit the reception and distribution of China-Brazil Earth Resources Satellite (CBERS-3) data within South Africa and the Southern African region, said the department.

Sansa’s CEO and a board of between 10 and 15 members are predicted to be introduced at the launch. The executives will be designated by the Minister of Science and Technology Naledi Pandor, as stipulated in the Act.

Science and Technology Minister, Naledi Pandor

South Africa’s space institutions

South Africa is in fact already heading up a number of notable space projects, which includes the Square Kilometre Array, the Southern African Large Telescope and SumbandilaSat. Sansa will become the umbrella body that will will synchronize all these projects.

The agency will also incorporate the country’s current science and technology establishments, such as the Satellite Applications Centre run by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.

Most of these bodies already “play a significant role in the scientific study, exploration and utilisation of space”, according to the Department of Science and Technology.

The French South African Institute of Technology, based at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, is one of the front-runners in establishing space science and technology in the country.

There are about 74 companies that trade within the aerospace and defence sector in South Africa, according to the International Astronautical Federation.

The federation will host its 62nd International Astronautical Congress in Cape Town in October 2011. This will be the first time such a congress is organised in Africa.

“South Africa has some of the best space infrastructure in Africa,” reads a report released by the department.

The actual country’s participation in astronomy dates back to 1685, at what time a temporary observatory was established in the Western Cape. Subsequently, a permanent observatory was set up in 1820 outside Cape Town.

Where can I study Astronomy and Space Science after school?

* The National Astrophysics and Space Science Programme
(run by a consortium of institutions)
University of Cape Town, Department of Mathematics and Applied Mathematics
Private Bag Rondebosch 7701
Tel: (021) 650-2344/650-2334, Fax: (021) 650-2334

* University of Cape Town
Department of Astronomy, University of Cape Town
Private Bag Rondebosch 7700,
Tel: (021) 650-3342, Fax: (021) 650-3342

* University of the Free State
Department of Physics, University of the Free State
PO Box 339, Bloemfontein 9300,
Tel: (051) 401-2926/6158

* University of Natal, Durban
School of Pure and Applied Physics, University of Natal
Durban 4041, Tel: (031) 260-2775, Fax: (031) 261-6550

* University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg
School of Chemical and Physical Sciences, University of Natal
Private Bag X01, Scottsville 3209
Tel: (033) 260-5326, Fax: (033) 260-5009

* Potchefstroom University
School of Physics, Potchefstroom University for Christian Higher Education
Private Bag X6001, Potchefstroom 2520
Tel: (018) 299-2423, Fax: (018) 299-2421

* Rhodes University
Department of Physics and Electronics, Rhodes University
PO Box 94, Grahamstown 6140,
Tel: (046) 603-8450, Fax: (046) 622-5049

* University of South Africa
Department of Mathematics, Applied Mathematics and Astronomy
PO Box 392, UNISA 0003
Tel: (012) 429-6202, Fax: (012) 429-6064

* University of Stellenbosch
Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, University of Stellenbosch

Private Bag X1, Matieland 7602
Tel: (021) 808-4368, Fax: (021) 808-4981

* University of the Witwatersrand
School of Computational and Applied Mathematics
Private Bag-3, Wits-2050, Johannesburg
Tel: (011) 717-6138, Fax: (011) 717-6149

Source: mediaclubsouthafrica.com, radionz.co.nz, boston.com, africaninspace.com


Flex your science and tech muscle to help win SKA bid

South Africans have been urged to help the country win the bid to host the world largest radio telescope, the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), by highlighting their science and technology strengths.

Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor made this plea at the CSIR Biennial Conference on Tuesday in Pretoria.

Science and Technology Minister, Naledi Pandor

“In the run-up to the vital decision about who will host the SKA, all of us must make an effort to showcase our strong science and production capabilities across all of the areas that are required for the SKA to run successfully. We need to highlight that such a project has the power to strengthen science, technology, and innovation in Africa,” she said.

The minister added that all had a role to play in strengthening the bid, including researchers, the media and local industry.

South Africa and Australia are the only two countries shortlisted to host the SKA – poised to be by far the largest radio telescope in the world. SKA funders are expected to announce the host country in March 2012.

If South Africa wins the bid it would consolidate Africa as a major hub for astronomy in the world.

The core of the telescope will be located in Carnarvon in the Northern Cape, with about three antenna stations in Namibia, four in Botswana and one each in Mozambique, Mauritius, Madagascar, Ghana, Kenya and Zambia. Each antenna station will consist of about 30 to 40 individual antennae.

The minister said the SKA was a science project that offered immense opportunities for advancing technology development, engineering and innovation in areas that range from computing and information and communication technology, as well as the development of new materials to construct the satellite dishes, right through to innovative energy solutions to power the SKA.

Source: BuaNews, futuretimeline.net, salt.ac.za,