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University of Pretoria and US Embassy open a new facility for science in Mamelodi

By Gilbert Mokwatedi

Posted on 23 November 2008

Donald Thabang
Donald Thabang

Young Donald Thabang, a Grade 3 pupil at Meetse A Bophelo Primary School in Mamelodi, passionately saluted the University of Pretoria and the US Embassy for bringing a science education facility closer to him and the rest of his community.
The boy from Meetse a Bophelo Primary School in Mamelodi is one of several residents (such as school learners, teachers, students and community members) in the township who will from now enjoy access and use of a new science and technology facility that was established in Mamelodi, thanks to a partnership between the University of Pretoria and the United States Embassy in Pretoria.

The Mae Jemison US Science Reading Room was opened yesterday (Friday, 21 November 2008) afternoon at the Mamelodi Campus by the US Ambassador to South Africa, Mr Eric M. Bost, and the Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Pretoria, Professor Calie Pistorius.

It is meant for people interested in science or working with or in science.  Established at a cost of R2.5 million, the facility is aimed at boosting the education of students in the community about science and related subjects.

The Reading Room is named after the first African-American woman astronaut, Dr. Mae Jemison, whose historic flight on the Space Shuttle Endeavor took place on 12 September 1992. Dr. Jemison served as a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) astronaut for six years.

The facility houses books and films, magazine subscriptions, computers with Internet access, exhibition space and it is also equipped with an audio-visual auditorium which will enable multimedia presentations and sessions as well.

Donald was nominated by his school peers and teachers to speak on their behalf to thank the University of Pretoria and the US Embassy for establishing the Mae Jemison US Science Reading Room.

“I want to thank our sponsors - the American Embassy and the University of Pretoria.  On behalf of all the children in Mamelodi, I say a big thank you for this wonderful reading room.  I love reading and learning about science. God Bless You,” he said.

According to Mr Edwin Smith, Director of the Mamelodi Campus, the Reading Room will have local high school learners as its primary beneficiaries.

“However, UP students, local school teachers and community members interested in science or working with or in science will also have access to the Reading Room and its facilities,” he added.

Reiterating the above, the Principal of the University of Pretoria - Professor Calie Pistorius, said that the Mamelodi Campus of the University is ideally located to be a hub of the University’s community engagement activities. 

“The Reading Room and its facilities will be available not only to the University of Pretoria’s students on the Mamelodi Campus, but to the entire community of Mamelodi, As such, it gives a special manifestation to our greater vision of community engagement and supports our endeavours to also use the campus for the benefit of the Mamelodi community,” he said.

U.S. Ambassador Eric M. Bost commended the University of Pretoria for its community engagement activities in Mamelodi.

”I want to make it clear that we are exceedingly grateful to the University of Pretoria and especially to the Vice Chancellor, Dr Calie Pistorius, whose vision of reaching out to the community in Mamelodi supported our vision of doing the same’” he said.

Ambassador Bost also read a message from Mae C Jemison (she could not attend the function). It read in part: “I write to send my congratulations on the opening of the Mae Jemison US Science Reading Room which you are inaugurating today. It is great honour to have my name connected to this facility. I share the belief of the South African Department of Education, the University of Pretoria and the US Embassy that science and mathematics education must be a priority for all students. Remember, our children are innately curious, energetic, motivated and enthusiastic and reading is the key”.\

The encouraging message from Mae C Jemison was well received by young Donald Thabang who commended her teachers for encouraging him to read more books to increase his knowledge. He believes that the Mae Jemison US Science Reading Room is a place to be.

“I hope we can come here every day.”

Click here to read Prof Pistorius’s full address. 

Pistorius and BostPistorius and Bost
Vice-Chancellor Prof Calie Pistorius and US Ambassador, Eric M Bost



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