Thousand of learners from schools across South Africa have had a chance to experience first-hand career opportunities in the aviation and defence industries during the three trade days of the African Aerospace and Defence Exhibition (AAD).
For the first time this year, they were also issued with a maths pocketbook as part of the Youth Development Programme (YDP). This is a handy reference tool for learners from grades 8 to 12 and contains maths and science formulas as well as definitions.
Kevin Velensky, who has been involved with the YDP since 2006, spoke enthusiastically of the publication, saying it helped students to see the big picture and understand that there were not only connections within subjects, but also across subjects - the same formulas were used in both maths and science.
He said that while the publication was very easy to use, teachers also had to be trained how to use it effectively. The publishers needed to take more time to train teachers to use the book which could lead to better education.
Chairperson of the Youth Development Programme, Mari van Wyk, said they selected 3000 students through the Dinaledi schools project . This aimed at increasing access to maths and science in underprivileged schools and had contributed to a steady increase in the pass rate in those subjects. There are more than 400 participating schools countrywide.
During the programme, the learners were given hands-on opportunities to put their maths and science knowledge to the test with building lego models and balsawood aircraft designed to fly.
Visiting Brigadier General Mark Dillon of the US Air Force, who spoke to the students and later toured the project, said although he had heard about the programme this was the first time he had personally seen it and it was a project of which the South Africa Air Force should be proud. He said he had particularly enjoyed the flight simulations and lamented the fact that he had not had a similar opportunity in his youth.
During the programme, the learners were given hands-on opportunities to put their maths and science knowledge to the test with building lego models and balsawood aircraft designed to fly. They also had the chance to fly aircraft using flight simulator programmes and were able to meet members of the elite Special Forces and the South African Navy and talk about everything from discipline to career opportunities.
The Youth Development Programme, which is part of AAD, and this year marked its tenth birthday, has over the years given thousands of youngsters the opportunity to meet members of all arms of the military and expose them to both local and international defence and aviation companies.