K’Litsha lecturer aims to inspire

2017-08-17 06:05
Dr Funelwa Ngece-Ajayi in front of the new Chemical Sciences Building at the University of the Western Cape, where she works as a lecturer and research leaderPHOTO: harriet box

Dr Funelwa Ngece-Ajayi in front of the new Chemical Sciences Building at the University of the Western Cape, where she works as a lecturer and research leaderPHOTO: harriet box

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

It is admirable when someone attains success and yet remains humble.

However, it’s even more admirable when one’s circumstances were humbling during their formative years, but yet one remains proud of one’s background and makes a commitment towards a positive change in the community.

Dr Fanelwa Ngece-Ajayi is a senior lecturer in Physical Chemistry at the University of the Western Cape (UWC), and also a research leader in the field of drug metabolism nanobiosensors for antiretrovirals and Tuberculosis treatment drugs.

She understands that applying to a university to further your education is not a given for people living in Khayelitsha, where she comes from.

Ngece-Ajayi leads a non-profit organisation called AmaQawe ngeMfundo, which she founded in February, along with five other academics.

Together, they want to change the negative stereotypes about townships, and have decided to start work in schools, instilling confidence among pupils to study maths and science.

She is enthusiastic about her work when she explains what she and her collaborators aim to achieve.

“I’m happy to be leading this group of academics. We all have a heart for the communities we come from and we want to promote science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) among pupils in townships and rural schools, and to encourage these pupils to pursue careers in these areas.

“At the moment, we are limited to Khayelitsha because of inadequate resources and funding, but we would like to see this project expanding nationally”.

Ngece-Ajayi appeals to both the private and public sector to support this cause through any form of donations and sponsorships.

“We visit schools with our makeshift mobile laboratory and give learners access to interactive demonstrations and experiments to help make learning more practical.

Then there are times we take them to the Science Centre, for instance. One of the learners said they would like to become a forensic biologist,” she says.

“I’m excited to see these youngsters interested in solving the current water crisis, as well as finding solutions to the health issues in South Africa.

“Lecturing at UWC showed me that students from the townships and rural schools struggle financially, and sometimes quit their studies due to a lack of proper foundation in science and a lack of exposure in the field ... I’d like to change that,” she said.

“So far we’re proud of what we’ve achieved.

Through our efforts we’ve empowered more than 60 pupils from different schools in Khayelitsha through the motivational seminars, workshops and talks we offer.

These events are also tailored to provide these pupils with information pertaining to bursary and scholarship applications, apart from assisting them with placement at institutions of higher learning.

“It is rewarding to see the positive effect the seminars have on them and how they influence pupils to eventually choose science as a future career.

I’d like to see more scientists, engineers and doctors – these are exactly the kinds of skills that this country needs,” she adds.

She is clearly passionate about education.

“I like the whole idea of breaking the cycle of poverty by means of education. It’s what motivated me. My mother, a former domestic worker, pushed education and hard work, simply because she never had the opportunity.”

They had no support from her father, but her mom managed to pay for her schooling and that of her other three siblings - a brother now aged 30, a sister currently in matric, and another sister who completed matric a few years ago.

They all relied and survived on only her mother’s salary as they were growing up.

“I would contribute financially by braiding hair over weekends as well as helping my mom work as a domestic worker - also over weekends - until I eventually obtained a government bursary during my honours year.

That’s when I was able to stop working and concentrate on my studies.

“To me the most disheartening thing is to see bright kids from my area pass matric and sit at home aimlessly.

It makes a difference, going out to communities which don’t have wifi access, and teaching them how to go about doing an online application.

When you’re right there in the community, it makes it easier for learners to run back home quickly to get the necessary documents, instead of travelling back and forth. I’m basically doing what I would’ve liked done for me when I used to be in the same situation,” she says.

“With enough will-power any child can succeed, no matter their living conditions and background.

These factors never define you, or are deciding factors when it comes to a child’s potential. My advice is to build hope and to have a plan.”

Dr Ngece-Ajayi, a mother of three kids aged nine, five and three, says she hopes to inspire learners to achieve greater things.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
Watch: Investing in the future through child development

An investment of R32-million into 11 early childhood development centres is changing the future for children in the Northern Cape.

/News
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.