14:00-14:30 Science as a Language in Basic Education and Society to have a Creative and Innovative society

Presenter: Ms Valentine Saasa

Ms Valentine Saasa

Ms Valentine Saasa is a founder and director of Capricorn Educational Resource Centre. The organisation popularise science, engineering, technology and mathematics (STEM) as attractive, relevant and accessible to learners and community members in rural areas. She led the NSW 2017 & 2018 projects. Valentine Saasa is currently pursuing a doctoral degree with the CSIR and University of Pretoria, where she is focusing on screening different nano-materials for their potential use in non-invasive diagnosis and monitoring of diseases such diabetes mellitus and cancer. She holds a master degree in Biochemistry (Cum Lade) from University of Johannesburg, an honours and bachelor’s degree from University of Limpopo. She was awarded a DST doctoral fellowship award in 2017 during South African Women in Science Awards. She is also an award holder of South African Women in Science communication from the British council. Valentine Saasa was also selected and funded as young science communicator by NRF/SAASTA to study for online short course in science communication with Stellenbosch University.

Whether playing in streams or fields or working on the farm, rural children acquire science and engineering skills throughout their daily lives. Although many children grow up in rural areas compared to urban areas, comparatively little attention is given to rural science education. Opportunities for learners and community members to meet STEM professionals and visit the science centers, museums, zoos, and aquariums usually found in urban areas are often limited because of geographical isolation, socioeconomic disadvantages, and in many cases, language barriers. Rural learners may feel a disconnect between their local and academic knowledge and a perception of lower expectations. Their cultural, socioeconomic, or indigenous perspectives often result in feelings of disenfranchisement. In this presentation, I will highlight and discuss some of the driving factors that lead to lower levels of awareness and interest to pursue STEMI, particularly in the context of South African rural areas, and what we can do to improve the status quo.