Friday, January 22, 2010

Chemistry & South Africa: 1/22 @ 3:45, ISAT 159

Dr. Brian Augustine from the JMU Department of Chemistry will present a seminar entitled, "A Tale of Two Countries: Science Education in the New South Africa." It is an historical overview of the education system in South Africa coupled with observations of Dr. Augustine's time in South Africa as a Fulbright Scholar teaching in the School of Chemistry at the University of KwaZulu Natal in 2009.

The talk is today, January 22nd, with refreshments served at 3:30 pm and the seminar at 3:45 pm in ISAT Room 159.

The presentation will trace how the apartheid system has relegated a significant majority of the population uneducated, and how this inequity is now being reaped in the university system in South Africa. South Africa is a critical nation on the African continent as it is by far the most economically developed. However, the nation now faces a severe skills shortage directly related to a struggling educational system. The presentation will be appropriate for a general audience, and is open to the public.


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  2. Dr. Augustine's presentation was very interesting, though the content was hard to hear. The situation for poor, black students in South Africa is awful because of the well engrained political attitude of racism dating back to the colonial period. Black citizens of South Africa are subject to schools with almost no books, no blackboards, and sometimes no running water. If a student does well enough on a single placement exam, they can qualify for a university education, but the students that get here are unmotivated, because they are leaving the rest of their class behind and feel like they will be ridiculed and scorned. Because of these factors, very few blacks in South Africa are managing to improve their lives or escape the poor living conditions of the slums.