Minister of Defence Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula encouraged more than 500 high school pupils to make mathematics their first choice if they want a better chance for lucrative careers.
Mapisa-Nqakula was speaking at the University of Fort Hare (UFH) in Alice yesterday where her department handed over four mobile laboratories worth R640000.
She said pure mathematics was not encouraged enough and pupils and teachers should advocate for mathematics. “South Africa is a key global player but, that esteem can be at risk if we do not have the correct skills.
“We must focus on the critical skills and we are ready as the department to expose the pupils to correct institutions but our learners must make the correct decisions early in their schooling careers,” said Mapisa-Nqakula.
The department and its procurement agency, Armscor, had partnered with the UFH to develop the science faculty. This partnership had seen Armscor investing over R7-million in the university since 2016, she said.
The equipment was donated to the university’s community engagement department which tutors rural schools. Mapisa-Nqakula also made a startling admission that South Africa was “indeed a violent country”.
She said this after ordering the gathering to observe a moment of silence for slain Raymond Mhlaba speaker Thozama Njobe. “To think that a female could be gunned down in such a violent manner, one can’t help but concede that indeed South Africa is a violent country,” said Nqakula.
Armscor group executive Solomzi Mbada said the laboratories and other investments were not a donation but a partnership which served both the university and Armscor. “We want the university to create a pipeline for the next generation of engineers of cutting-edge technology.
“So far the university, through the funds that we made available, has been able to offer a new field of study agronomics, which was only offered by one other university in South Africa, Rhodes University,” said Mbada. “The mobile laboratories would assist the university to reach rural schools.”
UFH deputy vice-chancellor Larry Obi said the institution has taken it upon itself to make sure that the quality of pupils in surrounding schools was on a par with urban schools.
“The university and the department spends a lot of time in bridging programmes just to make sure that the learners are able to grasp fundamentals of science and technology,” said Obi. — firstname.lastname@example.org