Young scientist aims to improve quality of science education

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Phoenix Durban

Bathabile Mpofu was selected as one of 16 people from among the brightest social entrepreneurs in the country to participate in the respected Red Bull Amaphiko Academy Programme.

A young scientist from Durban has made it her life’s work to tackle the science education crisis in the country as it is a top priority at government education level.
The bright innovator, Bathabile Mpofu, is an inspiring young woman, who founded Nkazimulo Applied Sciences.
She manufactures ChemStart – a mini science kit with experiments that high school pupils can try safely at home or at school in their own time.
It’s essentially a portable laboratory designed to expose young people who don’t have access to those kinds of facilities at schools to the wonder of science and experiments as early on in life as possible.
Since 2016, she and her team have enabled over 10, 000 pupils to perform science experiments themselves at school.
Her passion for science is something she has enjoyed from an early age and although she has achieved a variety of commendable milestones in her life, it’s not exactly what she originally set out to do.
She wanted to be a doctor but when she applied, she wasn’t able to join the programme. She was told that she had to pursue a bachelor of science for one year as many people do in order to make the cut for medicine.
Part of the reason why this was necessary is because she had not been exposed to laboratories or experiments while she was in high school. It put her on the back foot and made it exceedingly difficult to compete with her peers.
She never went on to pursue medicine, but instead completed her undergrad and post-graduate studies. She holds a BSc (Hons) degree from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, as well as a PDBA and an MBA from the University of Cape Town.
She has partnerships with a few corporates and has also trained and equipped over 40 teachers to do science experiments with their pupils at designated schools.

Mpofu has a grand and important vision to improve the quality of science education in South Africa through the application of scientific knowledge, and to demonstrate and relate science experiments to application in life in a fun and interesting manner.
The South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement (SAASTA) which is the body that runs National Science Week, were so impressed with her idea that she was funded to roll out her science kits at schools across the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands.
It is a real achievement for Mpofu that she was selected as one of 16 people from among the brightest social entrepreneurs in the country, to participate in the respected Red Bull Amaphiko Academy Programme.
This is a powerful incubator for grassroots social entrepreneurs, who are given the opportunity to be mentored by leading local and international innovators, over a 24 month period.
Mpofu has recently raised a significant amount of money through Crowdfunding, to supply science kits at schools around Hlabisa, the area where she grew up. She raised over R92, 000.
This was used to supply nine schools in Hlabisa with the science kits, impacting over 1000 pupils who will get a chance to do science experiments themselves.
“We aim to improve the quality of science education in South Africa and to do this in a fun, interesting but informative manner with the emphasis on understanding how science knowledge is applied. ChemStart allows pupils to perform experiments themselves weekly preparing them for university,” she said.

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