Young SA researchers head to France

Amy-Lee Visagie and Chrislin de Koker will fly the South African flag in France.
Amy-Lee Visagie and Chrislin de Koker will fly the South African flag in France.

Two grade 11 learners from Carnarvon High School in the Northern Cape will represent SA at the International Student-Teacher Conference in Nice, France.

Amy-Lee Visagie and Chrislin de Koker were selected after winning the National Global Travel and Tourism Partnership (GTTP) competition for their research on astronomy tourism.

Their research, which looked at how the Southern African Large Telescope and the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radio telescope contribute to local communities, was completed with the help of the National Research Foundation.

According to the Department of Science and Technology, the pupils will join national teams from 13 GTTP member countries at the student-teacher conference on 1 December. They will be accompanied by their teacher Christo Fieland.

GTTP is a multi-country educational programme to introduce tourism students to career opportunities in the sector. South Africa is a GTTP member country, and Carnarvon High School was selected as the winning school in the country for 2018.

Science and technology minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane says her department is proud to see young people taking up the opportunities brought about by the building of the SKA.

"It is encouraging to see the enormous impact the scientific activities around the Karoo region are having on people's lives. The two astronomy projects have seen many young people benefiting through scholarships and job opportunities here and abroad. It is now encouraging to realise the tourism potential the projects have in South Africa, as demonstrated by Amy-Lee and Chrislin in their research," notes Kubayi-Ngubane.

She adds that the learners' participation in the conference will go a long way towards attracting much-needed investment into the country.

In July, the minister launched the completed 64-dish MeerKAT radio telescope, a precursor to the SKA. Until the completion of the SKA, the MeerKAT is the world's biggest and most sensitive radio telescope in the world.

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