UNIVEN’s Vuwani Science Resource Centre led by Dr Nnditshedzeni Eric Maluta, who is the co-ordinator and team leader of the Centre, won the Communication Award for exceptional sharing and promotion of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). This award recognises those who have made STEM accessible through innovative and remarkable programmes and approaches. The prestigious 2021/2022 NSTF – South32 Awards celebrated under the theme ‘Basic Sciences for Sustainable Development’, took place at Houghton Hotel, Johannesburg on 21 July 2022.

Deputy Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Honourable, Mr Buti Manamela (right) and Dr Eric Maluta

The keynote speaker of the 2021/2022 NSTF) – South32 Awards was the Deputy Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Honourable, Mr Buti Manamela.

UNIVEN team led by the Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Dr Bernard Nthambeleni was in attendance to support the award recipient, Vuwani Science Resource Centre Coordinator, Dr Eric Maluta. The Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Venda, Dr Bernard Nthambeleni in celebrating the award said “This is a great achievement for the University of Venda. We are so grateful for this exceptional achievement”.

On Photo L-R: Prof Jan Crafford, Dr Eric Maluta and Dr Bernard Nthambeleni

After receiving the award, Dr Maluta cheerfully said “ I am so happy and proud to represent the Vuwani Science Resource Centre (VSRC) team as a winner of the NSTF South32 Communication Award. It has been a journey of engaging learners and the public on science related matters and a learning curve for me to communicate
science to rural learners and encouraged them to follow careers in science at institutions of higher of learning like the University of Venda. Dr Maluta enthusiastically mentioned that he is dedicating the award to the late Professor Vaith Sankaran who was his mentor on the science communication. “I am proud to be part of the University of Venda’s Vuwani Science Resource Centre and the Winner of NSTF South32 Communication Award”. When asked what made him to win this award, he said “Vuwani Science Resource Centre is in the middle of the communities which makes it unique in its science communications and we host the Limpopo Indigenous Knowledge System Documentation Centre (IKSDC).

The centre has been embarking on science outreach programmes to different rural areas where learners do not have the knowledge of any science equipment. The schools do not have laboratories and learners are unable to identify what a thermometer is. The rural engagement of the learners and public is one of the key issues which had made us to win the award”. He further alluded that, “We are engaging with the Vhembe District Municipality and parts of Capricorn and Mopani District Municipalities during our career support, hands on training for experiments, role modelling programme, IKS programme and many other projects”. He pointed that “The IKSDC allows us a space to communicate with the public on indigenous knowledge sharing and increase our public participation as a centre”.

“The award is a wakeup call for VSRC to work hard in the space of science communications. We are going to start with the journey of celebrating the National Science Week 2022 from 01- 05 August 2022 and we hope to cover parts of the Vhembe, Capricorn, and Sekhukhune District Municipalities. The spirit of the VSRC continues as we always say to leaners that “in your future, ri rothe”. We are available as VSRC team to take science to any area, call us and we will be there for you ”, highlighted Dr Maluta. Dr Maluta appreciated the work which is done by VSRC team, interns, volunteers, and support from the public. He indicated that the award has been a team effort, as he only coordinates the work and the team led by Mr Sampie Mathebe, works hard on daily basis to communicate science to learners and the public. He further applauded the following team members: Mr Robert Tshikwama from IKSDC, Dr Sophie Mulaudzi from the Department of Physics, Dr Lutendo Mathomu from Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology, and Mr Fhumulani Mutshaeni from Department of Chemistry who are always assisting the work of VSRC team. The support of the University management, led by Dr Bernard Nthambeleni is appreciated, and we are also supported by different departments within the University, and it makes our work easier. “ To all learners, public participants, and all stakeholders, we appreciate your support
and as usual the gates and doors are open for you to utilise the centre. Finally, we would like to appreciate the support from different funders like SAASTA, NRF, DSI, NISSAN SA, Musina Venetia Mine, BMW, etc”.

Issued by: Department of Marketing, Branding and Communication
University of Venda
Tel: (015) 962 8525 / 8710
Date: 24 July 2022

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