15 January 2016
Five matriculants from the small rural town of Carnarvon who did particularly
well in maths and science in their final National Senior Certificate exams at the end
of 2015 are setting off for university in the coming days, armed with full bursaries
from the Square Kilometre Array South Africa (SKA SA).
Carnarvon, in Northern Cape, is a remote town. It is the closest inhabited place
to where the SKA SA radio telescope is being built. The global technology project,
with operations in South Africa and Australia, is tasked with mapping the universe.
It is an important addition to the town's economy. Most of the construction is being
done on-site and it is providing employment for the area's citizens and a much-
needed economic boost for the town.
The project has always strived to give back to the
community for allowing the
operation and its people to become part of the community, says Lorenzo Raynard,
SKA SA communications manager. The bursary initiative, part of the SKA SA Human
Capital Development Programme, was started in 2005 and already has helped more
than 730 pupils to study in the science and engineering fields at tertiary institutions.
This year, five 2015 matriculants from the local Carnarvon High School have
the opportunity to continue their studies in science-related fields thanks to bursaries
offered through the programme.
The students – Anver Adams, Janethon de Klerk, Kyle Henderson, Cedwill Abdol
and Bradley Bosman – all performed well in mathematics and physical science in
their final exams, and want to study for Bachelor's degrees in computer and data
science, electrical engineering and physics at various universities around South
"Our goal is to ensure sustainability for the SKA and that site engineers be
drawn from the local community," SKA SA project director Dr Rob Adam said in a
statement released on 8 January. "In turn (we want to) provide a way for local
young people to achieve their dreams of greatness through science. (This is) the
first time learners from the school with support from SKA SA, have obtained matric
exemptions to further their studies in science related fields."
Itumeleng Molefi, the physical science teacher at the school, cannot be more
proud of his students' achievements. He said some of the learners came from
severely challenging backgrounds. "It is only through their own perseverance and
determination that they have succeeded."
The students, together with their teachers, as well as with some knowledge and
assistance from SKA SA employees, made the effort and worked hard to pass their
final exams in November and December 2015 and are now looking forward to
starting their new learning journeys.
Bosman has applied to study for a Bachelor's degree at the University of the
Free State. He said he was glad he made the effort to persevere during the year. "It
was very difficult at times because we did not have a science teacher in Grade 10.
From Grade 11 onwards it was much easier after Mr Molefi joined the school."
Abdol wants to excel in computer science, starting at the University of the Free
State. "It is a great privilege for me to have this opportunity," he said of his
achievement. "I am thankful for all the support that I had. I would like to improve
my circumstances and will do anything to achieve my dreams."
Henderson was the 2015 head boy at Carnarvon High
School, and will be a first
year student at North West University this year, studying physics and mathematics.
He made special mention of SKA SA in inspiring him to perform well, saying that
"my matric year was made easier knowing that I had the support of SKA. (The
reward of getting the bursary) motivated me to study harder and put in more
effort… I am looking forward to my future because I know that I have excellent
privileges and opportunities."
De Klerk, the 2015 Carnarvon head girl, said she was incredibly motivated by
the presence of SKA in the town, with its bursary opportunity inspiring her to work
even harder for her university degree. "What you put in is what you will gain and I
want to work much harder because I do not want to disappoint my sponsors and
support team." She hoped to start her Bachelor's degree at the University of the
Free State. She plans to study science, specialising in astronomy, which might
mean she may find herself working
with her bursary sponsor sometime in the
In addition to being a star player in the school's first rugby team, Adams aced
his final exams and now looks forward to going to the University of the Western
Cape to start his science degree. "I knew that I had to put in all my effort and pass
and the rest will be taken care of (by SKA SA). I am proud of my achievements and
look forward to the future," he said.
SKA SA is proud of the Carnarvon five's success and determination, says Sam
Rametse, the professional officer: schools and outreach for the SKA SA Human
Capital Development Programme.
"We are reaping the benefits of appointing a science educator at Carnarvon
High School who took the learners from Carnarvon and surrounding areas under his
wing. It is due to his hard work that we see this success and we look forward to
supporting the students in their further studies."
In January 2016, the Square Kilometre Array South Africa awarded bursaries to five of the brightest matric students in Carnarvon. The radio telescope project has become an important addition to the small Northern Cape town, its people and economy. (Image: Wikipedia)