Promoting science, technology through community media

Monday, March 19, 2018

Community media is one of the most important platforms for improving public understanding and awareness of science and technology.

“Promoting and communicating the value and impact of science, technology, and innovation is critical to a developing economy, as is building a science, engineering, and technology human resource base. The MDDA is proud to be part of such an initiative,” said Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA) Acting CEO William Baloyi.

Baloyi was speaking at a recent Youth Science Journalism Workshop held by the South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement (SAASTA) and supported by MDDA, as part of a Memorandum of Understanding to promote science journalism. 

Some 47 representatives of community media, from all nine provinces, attended the workshop, which covered topics pertinent to Science Journalism from the responsible management of scientific information to ZACube-2, South Africa’s next technology demonstrator.

Workshop participants also visited the mineral processing research body, Mintek, touring the Nanotechnology Innovation Centre and HySA Catalysis facility.

The Science and Technology Youth Journalist Programme was launched in 2015/2016, as part of the Innovation Partnership for Rural Development Programme (IPRDP) Science and Technology Journalism programme, to promote science journalism through an internship programme hosted by community media.

“The programme is being implemented within district municipalities where IPRDP technologies are demonstrated and primarily accommodates unemployed graduates in Science, Technology, Communication and Journalism, between the ages of 18 and 35 years,” the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) said in a statement.

The programme has been rolled out progressively, commencing with 17 interns during the 2015/2016 financial year. With a further eight candidates contracted into the programme in 2016/2017, and 27 interns in 2017/2018, the programme now covers seven of the nine provinces of South Africa, with plans to extend it to the remaining provinces of the Western Cape and Free State next year.

According to the GCIS, to date the programme has seen a significant amount of media coverage, especially in indigenous languages, generated through community media, as well as various capacity building opportunities provided to the interns from reporting on Algae-based Wastewater Treatment, to the launch of Low Pour Flush Sanitation Technology, and a SKA Media Tour.

Media Development and Diversity Agency

The MDDA is a statutory development agency, deriving its mandate, from Section 16 and 32 of the Constitution Act No. 108 of 1996, thereby providing for freedom of expression and access to information. As a partnership between the South African Government and major print and broadcasting companies, it promotes and assists in the development of community media and small commercial media in South Africa and the transformation of the media, by providing support (financial, capacity building, etc.) in terms of the MDDA Act No 14 of 2002. It also aims to raise public awareness with regard to media development and diversity issues, and to encourage media literacy and a culture of reading. –

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