STEM Careers Symposium on Edgewood Campus
More than 4 000 Grade 11 and Grade 12 pupils from schools in and around the eThekwini Municipality region attended the Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) Careers Symposium held on UKZN’s Edgewood campus.
The Symposium was organised by the Human Settlements, Engineering and eThekwini Transport Authority and Trading Cluster: Support Services in collaboration with the eThekwini Municipal Academy, UKZN’s College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science (CAES) and the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education.
The eThekwini Municipality is mandated by the Cluster to implement STEM initiatives to help eradicate the shortage of scarce skills and trained professionals within the municipal area.
Learners from numerous schools, particularly disadvantaged ones, were transported to the Edgewood campus for the official opening which featured speakers from the eThekwini Municipality, the Department of Education and UKZN.
Officials from the eThekwini Municipality included Councillor N Khuzwayo, who represented the Mayor Councillor Zandile Gumede; Deputy City Manager (Trading Services), Mr Philemon Mashoko, and Deputy Head of the Corporate Human Resources, Trading Services and Infrastructure division, Mr Gideon Vundla.
The event opened with the national anthem sung by learners from JG Zuma School followed by an address from Vundla who welcomed guests and emphasised the role of various stakeholders in driving STEM initiatives.
Khuzwayo delivered the keynote speech during which he spoke about South Africa’s poor international ranking in Maths and Science which has led to STEM initiatives being prioritised. ‘Our municipality is resolute in ensuring it provides assistance to not just Grade 11 and 12s but the entire educational fraternity with the emphasis on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics – STEM.’
A CAES Masters graduate Ms Sinenhlanhla Sikhosana, who is currently employed at InQubate, captivated the learners with her experiences at UKZN.
Professor Thomas Konrad of the School of Chemistry and Physics thrilled audiences with his science show, in the process refreshing the youngsters’ knowledge of Physics.
After the formal programme, learners were given time to visit the exhibits and interact with UKZN staff and students. CAES had exciting exhibition stands manned by representatives from the School of Chemistry and Physics, the School of Engineering, the School of Life Sciences and the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science.
The four-day event also featured exciting magic shows by Mr Ajay Bissessur and Dr Roshila Moodley’s postgraduate students.
Said Bissesur: ‘I was glad to see the emphasis placed on the importance of Mathematics and Science as career choices. The positive response to the science demonstrations by learners, educators and officials clearly indicates that science can be cool, fun and intellectually stimulating.’
Informative talks were also presented by staff from UKZN’s Corporate Relations Division, including Ms Hazel Langa and Mr Sibusiso Kheswa who provided information about the various degrees and requirements for studying at UKZN.
Ms Gill Dawson of the CAES Access Programme said: ‘I am pleased to be part of the STEM initiative. I was pleasantly surprised to meet some of our former Access students who are now teachers.’
Teachers from Mayville Secondary School, Ms N S Hadebe and Mr S W Majola, found the event to be extremely helpful to both them and their students, while Miss N Ngcobo of the Nkosinathi High School complimented the programme saying it gave learners information on a wide variety of careers.