HERE’S HOW THE COVID-19 LOCKDOWN RESTRICTIONS HAVE AFFECTED THIS YEAR’S FESTIVAL… By Zakiyah Ebrahim
Since its inception in 1996, Scifest Africa, South Africa’s National Science Festival, has been educating and enlightening its audiences. Featuring world leaders and experts in conversation, the festival aims to mesmerize, amaze, educate and entertain.
Each year, the festival offers a diverse and exciting programme, and is a crucial (and exciting!) doorway to the world of Science, Technology, Innovation, Engineering and Mathematics and aims to promote public awareness and appreciation of the disciplines in South Africa.
Scifest Africa has hosted hundreds of international speakers and workshop leaders, and hosted well over a million attendees of all ages, becoming the largest science festival on the African continent. The public, parents and learners from across the country are encouraged to attend the event.
More about the festival
Whatever your age, from six to 106, there is the chance to learn more about science and take part in experiments in a fun, engaging and thought-provoking way.
Scifest Africa consists of two components
• the National Science Festival, held in Grahamstown, Eastern Cape, in March every year;
• regional and national Outreach Programmes implemented throughout the rest of the year.
Scientists from Southern Africa and the world are afforded the opportunity to share their
work, network with one another, and make science accessible within the reach of ordinary
people. Best of all, it is a chance for youth to receive proper career guidance and tips on becoming leaders in STEM someday.
This year’s theme is in celebration of the International Year of Plant Health (IYPH), as proclaimed by the United Nations. It recognises that plants constitute the foundation for all life on earth, ecosystem function, food security and boosts economic development.
The theme also feeds into the 2030 agenda for sustainable development and recognises that plants are relevant in various disciplines. Before the announcement that the event would be postponed or possibly cancelled, Deputy Minister of Science and Innovation, Honourable Buti Manamela would have officially opened the National Science Festival on 17 April.
How Scifest had to change due to Covid-19
While the country awaits news on whether or not larger gatherings would be able to take place at all this, Scifest Africa 2020 has taken steps to make sure the public still gets their dose of STEM.
A range of online resources have been made available – including links to free e-books, training sessions and Zoom webinars. Keep your eye on the Scifest Facebook page for updates: @ScifestAfrica