Over this past weekend Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Dr Naledi Pandor officially opened a newly refurbished Science Laboratory and library at Siqongweni High School at Imbali Township in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal.
The science laboratory has been built with the help of Huawei South Africa at a cost of approximately R 500 000. The Department of Basic Education (DBE) renovated and equipped the library. Huawei further pledged to bring the school’s computer lab back to operation after it was recently robbed. Huawei will supply the additional equipment that has not been recovered by police. Huawei also donated a smart, multi-function whiteboard, Ideahub, to the school.
The new facilities are in recognition of the work done by the school over the years to produce consistently good results, despite a lack of resources. In January 2019, President Cyril Ramaphosa, accompanied by the then Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Naledi Pandor and Minister of Basic Education, Mrs Angie Motshekga, visited Siqongweni High after it had registered impressive matric results consistently over time.
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, despite lacking basic infrastructures such as science and computer laboratories and the library.
Minister Pandor thanked Huawei, on behalf of DIRCO and the South African government, for the donations it has made to the school and the community of Imbali Township.
“What this Science Laboratory shows is a successful partnership between government, business and communities. 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 boarders. This future achievement illustrates the character of a giant global company such as Huawei, which also knows no boarders,” says Minister Pandor.
According to Huawei South Africa CEO Spawn Fan, the donation is in line with Huawei’s broader commitment to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education in South Africa. Fan highlighted 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.
“In South Africa, ICT technologies 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,” he says.
However, South Africa’s youth have to be equipped with the skills necessary to take advantage of the economic opportunities and compete both locally and internationally.
“That’s why Huawei is investing in STEM-related infrastructure at all levels to grow innovation of local solutions for social problems,” he adds. “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 just proud to be part of this initiative and look forward to seeing continued success from Siqongweni High School.”
School Principal, Mr Bhekizizwe Dlamini, whose leadership, is credited with the school’s academic achievements, says, “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 is a dream come true.”
In addition to supporting initiatives like the refurbishing of the science laboratory, Huawei runs a series of youth programmes which include training in new technologies like 5G, cloud and AI, a bursary programme for postgraduates, an intern and graduate programme, and the Huawei ICT Academy, which runs in more than 50 universities and colleges around South Africa.