Tech, science education crucial to tackling food insecurity, poverty – startup
Good technology and science education is the key to achieving food security, poverty alleviation, and community development in rural areas of South Africa, according to local mobile laboratory inventors Kusile Labs & Technology.
Kusile Labs & Technology is a local startup which has invented an affordable mobile science and technology laboratory for teaching in schools, suitable for use in rural locations as it can be battery powered.
In an interview with HumanIPO, Nkosi Maseko, director of Kusile Labs & Technology, said unless technology and science teaching is improved in rural areas, development will stagnate, and rural South Africa will remain stuck 50 years behind urban centres.
“Rural development is dependent on education. The current trends in education suggest that rural South Africa is 50 years behind its urban zones. If science and technology is not introduced in rural schools to be on par with urban schools, the likelihood of life in rural communities improving is farfetched,” Maseko told HumanIPO.
According to Maseko, prioritising technology and science education holds the key to alleviating poverty and food scarcity in rural South Africa.
“Without rural education emphasis and school infrastructure development, rural communities will continue to lag behind and this will threaten food security as less and less scientist, technologists and engineers are produced,” Maseko said.
“Science and technology learning will bring about community development, poverty alleviation, improved agricultural production, better healthcare system, and a strong basic education foundation for future scientists, technologists, engineers etc.”
Furthermore, unless technology and science is prioritised in rural schools, teachers will gravitate away from rural areas and congregate only in urban centres, perpetuating the lack of development possible in rural areas.
“The rural communities have a backlog of science teachers who flock to urban areas where there are better teaching resources. This leaves these communities with less qualified teachers and hence the poor results and stagnation in the community’s’ development,” said Maseko.
“With rural Africa’s science and technology education on par with its urban community, there would be a huge reduction in movement of people into cities as opportunities for employment will become available in rural areas, the economies of the countries will increase and the rural areas will improve. Hunger will decrease as more production will improve the lives of the people.”
According to Maseko, mobile laboratories are imperative tools for teaching in rural locations, as they provide a practical element to learning processes currently unavailable.
“The theory behind a school mobile lab is that more and better science education, enhanced by practical application of theory in class furthers the development of a society through an educated community,” he said.
“A school mobile science lab is a practical solution for disadvantaged populations anywhere in the world, but it is more in need in developing countries especially their rural communities. It concerns with directly applying information technology approaches to poverty reduction in the sense that it prepares the learner to be able to actively participate in the economy after school years and thereby directly benefit the disadvantaged population.”
With the final prototype presented to President Jacob Zuma in 2012, Kusile Labs & Technology has not been able to roll out the product over the past year due to lack of funding.
However, the invention has recently been accepted onto the Maxum Incubation programme, which Maseko hopes will enable the sale of 600 units by the end of 2014, at a projected gross revenue of ZAR33.6 million (US$3 million).