Over 2 000 grade 10 to 12 learners from the Greater Taung Local Municipality (GTLM) took a break from the normal school day to consider their future careers.
The learners attended a career day at the Taung Depot Hall on 21 February, an event hosted by the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI), in partnership with the GTLM, the Dr Ruth Segomotsi Mompati Education District, and the South African National Space Agency (SANSA).
Held under the theme, "The role of space science and technology in the Fourth Industrial Revolution", the event provided a platform for learners to explore their interests and passions and in the process understand themselves and the world better.
Encouraging the learners to take responsibility for their choices, Mmboneni Muofhe, the Deputy DirectorGeneral: Technology Innovation at DSI, said that the Department and its partners had come to Taung because they realised the value of learners being informed to make decisions about their future.
"We are here to introduce you to exciting careers available in the field of space science and technology. We urge you to use the opportunity we are bringing to you and make sound choices. When you visit the exhibition stalls and engage exhibitors, you are consciously building the future you deserve. Make sure that you ask relevant questions to get proper guidance, as there are also pointers about possible funding," Muofhe said.
He cautioned learners not to waste time, but rather to make their own informed decisions, as this would affect their futures.
"The choices you make now concerning your future cannot be made by teachers or your parents. Understand that the choices people make when they are young like you are now will determine the kind of life you will have when you are older," he advised.
Mpho Lencwe, a Taung resident currently completing a PhD at Tshwane University of Technology, encouraged learners to follow their dreams and not to allow their background to determine their future. He urged learners to live purposefully, setting clear goals and using the opportunities afforded to them.
"Back in 2007 when I was completing grade 12, my friends and I were not good in languages but excelled in mathematics, physics and biology. We then paired with learners who were good in languages and shared knowledge among ourselves. It was a winwin situation for all of us," Mpho said.
SANSA's Dan Matsapola told learners that space science and technology were no longer the exclusive preserve of rich countries.
"Even the poorest countries can participate and that is why we thought it appropriate to bring the space science and technology career day here to rural Taung."
He talked about upstream and downstream career possibilities in space science. Upstream careers include systems engineering, which focuses on how to design and manage complex satellite systems over their life cycles. Downstream careers include highly specialised fields like remote sensing engineering, which involves analysing data from satellites using statistical analysis and image analysis software for geographic information systems.
Kerapetse Makhoana, Greater Taung Education SubDistrict Manager, thanked the DSI for its efforts, saying the day had given learners a better understanding of the world of work. Talking about the importance of career guidance, she said awareness would help improve the learners' attitudes to science and encourage them to venture into careers they were interested in.
Grade 12 learner Kemogitse Tsekang, from Gabobidiwe High School, said she was excited to learn about the engineering of rocket propulsion from the SciBono Discovery Centre's exhibit. She was convinced that everything involves science and everybody, including her mother and younger sister, should learn about it.
"It is now too late for me to change my career path as I want to be a lawyer, but the sciences are inspiring," she said.
Kea Mamathebe, from Letlhogile Secondary School, was intrigued by the information she received on nanotechnology and planned to do further research.
"I now know that nanotechnology is expected to contribute to economic growth," she said.
The career day included science and motivational talks, quizzes and workshops.
Source: Department: Science and Technology