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31 Oct 2014 00:00
Knowledge is Ncah, say the students of Science Spaza
Any belief that the country’s youth lacks enthusiasm for science is being disproved by Science
Spaza, a network of self-initiated clubs at schools and communities across the
In the course of producing
learner-friendly educational material, a process begun in 2002, KwaZulu-Natal-based
Jive Media struck on the idea of creating a platform to support and promote
science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) education.
The vision was realised in
March 2013 through Science Spaza, which introduced interactive and fun
curriculum-linked learning to a growing network of science clubs in schools.
The programme, which uses
the slogan “knowledge is ncah!”, has expanded to include 70 clubs and reaches
more than 1 500 pupils.
Robert Inglis, co-founder
of the Science Spaza initiative, explained that the name was derived from the
idea of a local “spaza” shop at which pupils can pick up their “science essentials”.
These science learning resources contain simple, practical activities that help
to deepen understanding of science concepts, using readily available objects –
even in low-resourced areas.
Jive Media drew on its
long-standing partnership with Madam
& Eve cartoonist Rico to produce material that is both accessible and
engaging to a broad range of pupils.
“The practical experience
they get from running their own experiments helps them to build a better
understanding of what can be very abstract concepts,” said Inglis.
Science Spaza has moved
beyond comics by collaborating with New York-based hip-hop science education
professor Chris Emdin to promote science learning through a rap and hip-hop
songwriting and performance contest.
The Hip Hop Science Spaza
was supported by award winning rap artist iFani in a partnership with the
popular SABC2 youth television show Hectic
Inglis is excited about
the possibilities for scaling up the project. “We’re always thinking about how
to scale up without making the administration too complex,” he said. “If we can
create materials for 10 schools, there’s no reason [why] we can’t reach 500 or
He said extended reach would
help make corporate social spend more effective. Many companies struggle with
achieving scale and measuring their social investment impact.
“Our job is to grow the
spaces where these resources are being used and to continue developing the
metrics, which will help companies gauge the
impact their funding is making,” he said.
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