Academics plough back into society

Dr Fanelwa Ngece-Ajayi with his class at Site B's Blue Hall.

As committed South African citizens and proud township residents, five academics are keen to see the children from their community produce more scientists, engineers and doctors.

Known as AmaQhawe ngeMfundo, the academics are determined to change negative stereotypes about townships and instil confidence among pupils to study maths and science.

They visited Site C, in Khayelitsha, on Friday June 16, to advise and motivate pupils.

AmaQhawe ngeMfundo aims to promote science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) among pupils based at township and rural schools.

They are empowering more than 60 pupils from different schools in Khayelitsha through the workshops and motivational talks.

The group organises interactive workshops, seminars and fairs to excite and encourage pupils to choose science. They have a mobile laboratory for interactive demonstrations and experiments.

Leader of the group Dr Fanelwa Ngece-Ajayi said after extensive discussions , they agreed that there was a need to empower township children and motivate them to do science.

Through the stories of their own upbringing, she said they hope to inspire the pupils to achieve greater things.

The PhD graduate from the University of the Western Cape (UWC) said townships have everything to empower its children.

“While at UWC I have seen how students from township and rural based schools struggle and sometimes quit their studies due to a lack of a proper foundation in science and a lack of exposure in this field,” she said.

Through AmaQhawe ngeMfundo they hope to help pupils with science.

Dr Ngece-Ajayi specialises in physical and electro-chemistry at UWC. She also supervises postgraduates in the development of drug metabolism biosensors, in particular HIV treatment drugs and TB.

Dr Ngece-Ajayi said they intended to expand the project beyond Khayelitsha.

“I am a firm believer that children can do well despite their living conditions or background. It gives me great joy to be able to give back and spend time with children who face the same challenges I faced as a child,” she said.

Member of the group, Anothando Daniso said she was happy that their dream had become a reality.

“This shows that we are serious about developing our own pupils. The aim is to expose them to greater things in life. We want to uplift townships,” she said.

Ms Daniso said the organisation welcomed volunteers and funding, but said they would continue to empower young people.

Pupil Sihle Nconjana said he was happy to be part of the programme. “I so hope that we can have more of these workshops. To many of us this was an eye-opener. I now see myself as a doctor. This was a wonderful experience. I speak for many of those who were here,” he said.