Winner of a seed fund award for community and public engagement put up by the African Academy of Sciences, Lerato Ndlovu, a SANTHE PhD trainee, based at the Africa Health Research Institute (AHRI) in Durban, South Africa, took on the challenge of inspiring a new generation of South African scientists through her project entitled, “Science-2-Society”.
Science-2-Society aims to stimulate and increase interest and awareness in the work done by scientists in the HIV and TB fields by the people most effected by these diseases. Through her project, Ndlovu aimed to inspire high school learners from rural areas in KwaZulu-Natal to engage with the science in their communities; to expose them to the variety of scientific careers available to them; and to highlight the opportunities available for them to pursue these careers.
As part of her project, Ndlovu and her team of collegues and university drama students, brilliantly acted out a fully costumed and scripted play that gave the learners vital information about Tuberculosis in their own language - Zulu. The learners were then encouraged to engage with the team by asking questions or making comments relating to the play or science in general. Interested pupils were then invited to write an essay on the subject in return for one of five chances to win a week of experience working in a world-class scientific laboratory with all the equipment required – including a laptop computer of their very own.
Unfortunately, because of the devastating outbreak of the Corona pandemic, the job-shadowing part of the project had to be postponed. The winners will, in due course, be able to collect their prizes.
Ndlovu says a major highlight of her project was being able to engage with the school learners and to see the desire they had to learn more about TB and the excitement the play generated.