Vuwani Science Resource Centre under the School of Mathematical and Natural Sciences of the University of Venda (UNIVEN) in collaboration with Tshamukwai Na Musuku Trust and Bright Young Leaders Initiative hosted the first Rural Innovation Spring Camp. This Spring Camp targeted grade 10 and 11 learners from Tshimbupfe, John Mutheiwana and Marude Secondary Schools. The Camp was hosted at the Ultimate Guest House in Louis Trichardt (Makhado) from 23 – 28 September 2019. 

Group photo of the learners who attended the Rural Innovation Camp 2019 

The Camp was comprised of a space where young learners were exposed to different fields in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Learners were offered a critical and core curricular programme for grade 10 and 11 Physical Sciences and Mathematics, with the inclusion of extensive practical session. The performance of the experiments always simplifies the understanding of their curriculum concepts. Coordinator of the Vuwani Science Resource Centre, Dr Eric Maluta who was the Camp organizer said he believes that knowledge is powerful, but practicality makes one extra ordinary. 

The Camp was funded through Socio-Economic Development Contribution by the Highveld Coal Company and organised by Dr Eric Maluta (Coordinator of Vuwani Science Resource Centre, Mrs. Matodzi Malokisa (Co-Founder Bright young leaders Initiative) and Tsedzuluso Netshimbupfe (Co-Founder, Tshamukwai Na Musuku Trust). 

Thirty (30) learners from three schools, namely, Tshimbupfe, Marude and Jonathan Mutheiwana secondary schools were selected to be part of this rural innovation Camp. 

Several science and innovation activities were performed with the learners during the five days’ rural innovation Camp. Tutors managed to cover the grade 10 and 11 Mathematics and Physical Sciences core curricular during the Camp period. Other activities which were included were the Information Technology and Computer Programming Workshops, Scientific Writing Workshops, Science Practical Skills and Laboratory Work together with Robotics and Engineering Skills. 

Facilitators were involved with topics such as Sustainable development goals and Compulsory Community Innovation Projects, Career Development, Introduction to careers in STEM and Role model presentations. 

Dr Maluta said that the collaboration between Vuwani Science Resource Centre, Bright Young Leader Initiative and Tshamukwai Na Musuku trust will help learners to be prepared for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). He further mentioned that this has been one of the discussions with learners on how they can be prepared to tackle the challenges which will come with the 4IR to the rural communities. “The Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics comes in handy for learners and public to understand the importance of Fourth Industrial Revolution.” 

“It is our belief that to tackle the societal problems in South Africa, we need to cultivate a culture of social responsibility in the country and as the Vuwani Science Resource Centre together with BYLI and Tshamukwai Na Musuku trust we hope to start with learners and public. Our collaboration also offers Science and Innovation challenge competitions that encourage the high school learners to identify problems within their communities and find scientific solutions. The goal is to foster innovation and encourage young people to think creatively and innovatively in a competitive space,” said Dr Maluta. 

Learners discussing in a group preparing for the final day Camp presentations 

Dr Eric Maluta posing for a photo with student tutors and mentors for the Rural Innovation Camp. L-R: Dr. Eric Maluta (Vuwani Science Resource Centre), Mr. Zwivhuya Netshivhambe (University of Venda), Miss, Muano Mukwevho, (WITS), Mr. Tsedzuluso Netshimbupfe (Tshamukwai Na Musuku Trust), Mr. Matodzi Malokisa (Bright young leaders Initiative) Mr. Bongani Dlamini ( University of Johannesburg), Mr. Ivine Makani (University of Johannesburg), and Mr. Zwivhuya Mulaudzi (University of Venda) 

Mentors and tutors engaged learners with discussion on economic issues facing the developing countries as the world moves towards the 4IR. Dr Maluta said the world and especially developing countries’ economies face a myriad of challenges and one of such challenges, is the digital divide, which leads to an imbalance in terms of opportunities. “To try to address this, we need to move collectively with young people who are the leaders of tomorrow. The workshop has given learners opportunities that inspire them for innovation, problem-solving, and critical thinking. This was a well deserving opportunity to learners from rural areas.” 

Grade 10 learners were motivated to work hard for good grades this year as well as in the following year. They were also reminded that their grade 11 results are important as they are the ones that determine their pre-admission when they apply at tertiary institutions. “For grade 11 learners, mentors and tutors have shared their university first year stories and further discussed with them how to prepare for the university life,” concluded Dr Maluta. 

Learners attending one of the classes during the Camp 

Learners attending one of the classes during the Camp 

Learners participating in one of the outdoor activities 

Issued by: Department of Communications & Marketing 

University of Venda 

Tel: (015) 962 8525 
Date: 09 October 2019