SKA to spur science, maths interest

2013-05-27 12:05

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Cape Town - The Square Kilometre Array Radio Telescope is South Africa's biggest ever science and engineering project and will contribute greatly to science in general, to astronomy and to development in the country.

A critical aspect of the SKA is its potential impact on education and skills development. The SKA needs a wide range of skills and so it provides exciting career development opportunities, said David Kramer, chief executive of Sci-Bono.  

According to him the SKA has seen an increase in research opportunities in engineering, mathematics, physics and astronomy at under- and postgraduate level. It also offers important benefits for school level maths, science and technology education.

"The SKA provides wonderful opportunities to excite children about science, mathematics and technology. It is a focal point to boost interest in gateway subjects. The current generations of learners will reach higher education or employment in the technical economy just as the SKA approaches operational maturity around 2020."

Kramer said today's children will drive the SKA in future and will develop science and technology that doesn't yet exist.

"So it is important to invest in maths and science education, in building children’s capacity for innovation and in stimulating their interest in science, engineering and technology. We are advocating science and mathematics more aggressively to grade nine learners so that more talented learners, particularly those in disadvantaged communities, choose these subjects for metric and post-school study."

Achievement levels

He said they have accelerated efforts to improve achievement levels in maths and science. In 2012, the national maths pass rate for Grade 9 was 13%. We also had too few matriculants achieving 65% and higher for maths and science.

"Policymakers know that poor maths and science education and successful implementation of the SKA can't co-exist so much effort is going into fixing the problem. But the problem can't be left to education departments to fix. Industry needs to help."

According to Kramer they have implemented a new modernised national curriculum which includes the SKA as part of the science curriculum.

He said people will also increasingly see more competitions, olympiads, special events, science projects and field trips that focus awareness on the SKA and which build interest in the areas of study and work related to it.

"We are improving teachers' awareness of the SKA and to help them to link the SKA project to work in the classroom. Science centres have started to focus public awareness on the SKA so that communities and parents understand why it is important and what study and career opportunities it creates for their children."
Read more on:    ibm  |  astronomy  |  ska

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