Our Minister of Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor, said something really uplifting during the 2017/2018 budget speech. She said “Science and technology can play an effective role in addressing the challenges faced by young people”, and it’s a sentiment everyone can surely get behind.
That’s because if anything offers this world any hope of real improvement and progress, it’s science and technology.
Pandor’s words weren’t just words, either – she went on to detail the projects and initiatives her department is currently involved in that are aimed at doing exactly what she says science and tech can do for the youth of the country, and ergo its future.
Here they are:
- In 2015/16 we supported 1276 youth through the Technology Innovation Agency. This includes support for 52 youth owned SMMEs, 951 youth owned SMMEs that receive support from the Technology Stations Programme, and 273 individuals trained through the Innovation Skills Development. 85 of them received international training.
- The Department plans to host an inaugural Youth Assembly on the knowledge economy. The Assembly will provide a forum for young people to learn how to create businesses and social enterprises using advances in technology and knowledge.
- The Department has allocated R20 million, as part of the Operation Phakisa Oceans Economy, to supporting aquaculture activities in marginalised coastal communities, with a focus on women and the youth.
- Building on the successes of mLab Southern Africa, a mobile solutions laboratory and start-up accelerator designed to help young ICT entrepreneurs, an allocation of R6 million will allow us to expand the initiative beyond Gauteng and the Western Cape to the Northern Cape, Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal. We also want to reach young people in in Soweto, Mamelodi and Soshanguve.
- Last year more than 2 million people, most of them young, participated in DST-led science engagement activities co-ordinated by SAASTA (the South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement).
- The Department will spend R30 million on the construction of a science centre in Cofimvaba, Eastern Cape, and there will be a sod-turning ceremony during youth month in June.
- The Square Kilometre Array project continues to support learners from Carnarvon to study tertiary-level engineering and science. Five are in the gallery – Anver Adams, Kyle Henderson, Janethon de Klerk, Cedwell Abdol and Bradley Bosman. These five pupils scored exemptions in mathematics and physical sciences in the 2015 National Senior Certificate exams, the best ever for Carnarvon High.
- This year the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research will support 50 students through the Data Science Skills Development programme. Last year 33 third-year computer science electrical engineering and statistics students were trained. Students in this programme provide data-related business solutions to various stakeholders, including government departments and industry.
- Our internship programme with the Da Vinci Institute, through which we placed unemployed graduates at some of Technology Top 100 Companies, has since 2012 placed more than 170 young people.
With so many initiatives being funded for the benefit of South Africa’s young people, it looks like Minister Pandor and her department are turning every month into #YouthMonth.