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High-achieving PMB school gets STEM resources

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DIRCO minister Dr Naledi Pandor (middle), KZN education MEC Kwazi Mshengu, Huawei SA CEO Spawn Fan, and Siqongweni High School principal Bhekizizwe Dlamini declare the science laboratory and library open.
DIRCO minister Dr Naledi Pandor (middle), KZN education MEC Kwazi Mshengu, Huawei SA CEO Spawn Fan, and Siqongweni High School principal Bhekizizwe Dlamini declare the science laboratory and library open.

Huawei SA partnered with the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO)to present Siqongweni High School in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal, with a newly-refurbished science lab.

DIRCO minister Dr Naledi Pandorhanded over the facility, which Huawei SA helped build at a cost of R500 000. The Department of Basic Education (DBE) renovated and equipped the school’s library.

Huawei SA also pledged to bring the school’s computer lab back to operation after it was recently robbed, promising to supply the additional equipment not recovered by police.

“What this science laboratory shows is a successful partnership between government, business and communities,” says Pandor. “I am sure that this investment by Huawei will yield results not just for South Africa, but for the entire global community, because science knows no borders. This future achievement illustrates the character of a giant global company such as Huawei, which also knows no borders.”

The opening of a science lab and library at the high school is at the behest of president Cyril Ramaphosa, who, in 2019, visited the school in recognition of its consistently impressive matric results over the years, despite a lack of resources.

In 2018, the school achieved an 84% pass rate in grade 12, and in other years, it has achieved between 83% and 95% pass rates.

Accompanied by the then minister of science and technology, Pandor, and DBE minister Angie Motshekga, the president undertook to assist the school with a computer lab and asked the ministers to assist with the science lab and library.

With the help of Huawei SA and the DBE, the school now has a new science lab and a fully-equipped library.

Spawn Fan, CEO of Huawei SA, says the donation is in line with the company’s broader commitment to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education in the country.

Fan further highlights the role of ICT during the COVID-19 pandemic, which catapulted a shift to online, for work, education and entertainment.

In this digital era, which is already upon us, ICT skills will be critical, he says. “In South Africa, ICT has played a prominent role in fighting the pandemic and continues to play a crucial role in South Africa’s economic recovery process. Science and technology can empower young South Africans.”

However, SA’s youth have to be equipped with the skills necessary to take advantage of the economic opportunities and compete both locally and internationally, adds Fan.

“That’s why Huawei is investing in STEM-related infrastructure at all levels to grow innovation of local solutions for social problems. This laboratory here at Siqongweni High School is at a micro-level.

“The learners here have just as much potential to be great scientists as anyone else. Thanks to the science lab, they’ll be in a much better space to achieve that potential. We are proud to be part of this initiative and look forward to seeing continued success from Siqongweni High School.”

School principal Bhekizizwe Dlamini adds: “When our computer lab was burgled and our equipment was stolen, it was a door closing in our faces. But another door opened wider, and we are very grateful to Huawei for making our dreams possible again.

“Students won’t have to imagine science anymore; they will get a chance to work in a real lab, with real life demonstrations. In other well-resourced schools, this is an ordinary part of learning. For us, it’s a dream come true.”

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