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Building Capacity for Science Communication in South Africa: Afrocentric Perspectives from Mathematical Scientists

From the book Race and Sociocultural Inclusion in Science Communication

  • Mpfareleni Rejoyce Gavhi-Molefe and Rudzani Nemutudi


Globally, the past decade has seen the proliferation of the science communication agenda across a range of platforms. In the African continent, science communication has assumed an even more critical role, particularly when viewed against the backdrop of the structural and infrastructural deficiencies that continue to hamper science and development. Thus, without the advancement of the science communication agenda, attempts at addressing pressing developmental challenges while simultaneously moulding a scientifically literate African society are doomed to fail. In South Africa, the imperative for scientists to engage actively with the broader society emerged after the country became a democracy in 1994. These engagements continue to be shaped by the pernicious legacies of apartheid, related to sociocultural, racial, and gender inequalities. This chapter argues that gaps exist between the South African government’s well-developed policy positions and the practical implementation of its scientists’ imperative to deliver, through meaningfully resourced mechanisms, a viable, sustainable, and impactful science communication agenda. This in turn raises a critical question: where are the essential ‘foot soldiers’ and associated resources for the effective and sustainable delivery of science communication activities in the South African scenario? The challenge is daunting given the pressing need to equip and grow the critical mass of South African science communicators within holistic, sociocultural, and empowering ethical frameworks. This need arises in the context of a South African science landscape that remains dominated by Eurocentric hegemonic traditions. The chapter concludes by elaborating how the capacity-building, Afrocentric programme ‘Africa Scientifique: Leadership, Knowledge & Skills for Science Communication’, delivered annually since 2020 at AIMS South Africa and in partnership with African Gong, has demonstrated the potential to address the aforementioned gaps and challenges.


Afrocentric capacity buildingmathematical scientistspublic engagementsociocultural inequalitiesscience policy makers
© Bristol University Press 2023, excluding Chapter 12 © Tibisay Sankatsing Nava, Roxanne-Liana Francisca, Krista T. Oplaat, and Tadzio Bervoets
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