The 3RD Annual Harry Gwala District Science Week

The 3rd annual Harry Gwala District Science Week was a truly heart-warming event that took place from the 15th to the 19th of May 2023 in Kokstad and Ixopo, KwaZulu Natal. This remarkable gathering was organized by the Harry Gwala District Department of Basic Education and the South African National Space Agency (SANSA), with the participation of numerous esteemed organizations.

From its humble beginnings in 2021, where SANSA Sites in Hermanus and Pretoria attended, to the expanded engagement in 2022 with the inclusion of SAASTA and SANEDI, this year’s Science Week witnessed even more organizations coming together to inspire and educate. In addition to BRICS Astronomy and AfAS, SANSA, SANEDI, NRF SARAO, NRF SAAO, African Science Stars, UNISA College of Science, UNISA ISET, CSIR, NDMC, SANBI, NRF SAASTA, and The Department of Science and Innovation all joined forces to make a lasting impact.

Over the course of the week, a total of 21 schools and 1646 learners in Grades 10 to 12 had the privilege of participating in presentations and exhibitions tailored to their interests and educational needs. The engagement on the final day was particularly focused on Grade 12 learners, providing invaluable insights and information for their future endeavours.

This collaborative effort, made possible by the partnership between various organizations in the Science, Technology, and Innovation field, holds immense significance. It enabled us to reach out to marginalized communities in the rural district of Harry Gwala, where access to resources and exposure to scientific opportunities are often limited. These communities, where television sets are a rarity and river water is still relied upon, rarely have the chance to interact with organizations in the Science and Technology sphere to explore potential careers and pathways.

Events like the Harry Gwala District Science Week spark hope and inspire dreams in these communities. The impact may seem small, but the effect on the faces of the children when they opened the BRICS Astronomy magazine and saw me standing next to them, sharing the possibilities in astronomy, or when they encountered young scientists from other organizations they could relate to, is immeasurable. By nurturing their curiosity and expanding their horizons, we are planting seeds of ambition and empowering them to envision a brighter future.

Let us cherish the heart-warming moments of this Science Week and recognise the importance of ongoing dedication and resources for outreach initiatives like these. By engaging with learners, teachers, and communities in marginalised areas, we not only provide knowledge and guidance but also foster a belief in bigger dreams and a better life. Together, we can make a lasting impact and ignite the flame of possibility in the hearts of those who need it most.