Story by Runyararo Muzavazi and Tanaka Vunganai, Zimbabwe Herald, 4 March 2017
The Australian Embassy in Harare yesterday hosted the inaugural Africa Science Buskers Festival to inspire and develop a love for science among primary and secondary schoolchildren across Africa. The event, which dovetails with Government's STEM initiative, was inspired by Australian scientist Dr Graham Walker and his work of bringing Science Circus tours to Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Mauritius.
Twenty teams from schools across the African continent presented their best creative science projects.
Carol van Rooyen from Queen Elizabeth High scooped the first prize of a shield and the school with get $500 worth of books of their choice with her project on nano-fertiliser in the senior category while in the junior category Tyrese Daka won the first prize.
Australian Ambassador Ms Suzanne McCourt said the science buskers' festival was a baby of Government's STEM initiative which aims to promote competitiveness in science and technology development.
"Promoting Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education is critical for economic development and prosperity. Careers in science offer the change to break out of poverty and make important contributions to building societies," she said.
The Science Circus tours have motivated students across Africa to develop their communication skills through creative science projects, setting them on a path to lifelong science learning and empowering teachers to deliver innovative science education. The brainchild of a passionate local partner, Knowledge Chikundi, Africa Science Buskers Festival has been funded under the Science Circus tours, through the Australian Embassy's Direct Aid Programme.
Chikundi has already conducted two successful tours across Zimbabwe, teaching and training over 20,000 students.
The Secretary for Primary and Secondary Education, Dr Sylvia Utete-Masango, outlined how the ministry is implementing STEM in all sectors of the education system.
"The ministry is currently implementing the new curriculum from ECD 'A' to 'A' Level, whose thrust is on skills and competence development among young learners. We have also come up with the School Annual Sport, Science Arts Festival (SASSAF) concept in which all sporting activities and exhibitions are coordinated nationally in support of the implementation of the new curriculum," said Dr Utete-Masango.
She added that the Buskers Festivals triggered suitable research in line with the new curriculum which improved the understanding of scientific and technical skills useful in everyday challenges.
"...I urge the Science Busking to be part of the SASSAF concept so that your activities are coordinated from cluster to national level," she said.
The ministry is also developing a Centre for Research Development (CERID) to develop both experienced and budding research in the learning areas of the curriculum.