The Cofimvaba Science Centre, launched in the rural Eastern Cape town of Cofimvaba on 6 October 2021, is proof that coalition and partnerships can make dreams come true. The inter-departmental endeavour was made possible by co-operative efforts of the DBE, the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI), the Eastern Cape Department of Education (ECDoE); the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), and the local Intsika Yethu Municipality.
The Steering Committee began planning for the development of a new Science Centre in 2016, across the road from the newly constructed Cofimvaba Senior Secondary School to promote science awareness amongst the youth and the general public; identify and nurture young talent and potential; provide Mathematics, Science and Technology (MST) curriculum support; and to provide Science, Engineering and Technology career education. The building design, materials used and the technologies employed are eco-friendly with photovoltaic panels; building-scale wind turbines; heat pumps, fuel cells; rain water harvesting; biochemical toilets; energy efficient fittings; water efficient fittings; and lightweight building systems.
Almost 1000m2 of floor space is to feature interactive and exciting curriculum-linked exhibits to engage visitors. A thematic approach will be followed in structuring the exhibition area that will include activities such as science shows and fun experiments in which learners can participate. The Centre offers fully equipped laboratories for Life Sciences; Physics; Chemistry; and Agricultural Sciences. A laboratory equipment loan service scheme will provide an opportunity for schools in the district to borrow laboratory equipment and materials. An astronomy dome has also been installed, a Weather-SA station established and with 35 laptops for the mobile IT Laboratory, it is ready to host exhibitions.
“The DBE and the ECDoE identified the need to include an in-service training component for MST educators in the science centre's activities. Furthermore, the Centre will serve as a technical support hub for the various technologies that are needed for a comprehensive 21st Century education. The Centre will operate a mobile unit in the form of an appropriately equipped van that will take selected services to targeted groups. The outreach service will mainly target schools and strategically chosen public places where crowds gather. The mobile unit is already in place (under the Cofimvaba School District), having been launched by the DSI in 2014 and will be incorporated into the Centre when it becomes fully operational,” said Ms Boitumelo Butjie, from the DBE’s Curriculum Innovation and E-Learning Directorate.