Change the world


Minister of Higher Education, Training, Science and Innovation, the Honourable Professor Bonginkosi Emmanuel Nzimande today (Friday, 15 March 2024), launched Nelson Mandela University’s state-of-the-art Science Centre and other infrastructure that his department has funded.


The Science Centre, situated on the Ocean Sciences Campus, was established as an expression of Nelson Mandela University's commitment to being an engaged institution, dedicated to using its resources, platforms, students and staff in pursuit of building a social justice-oriented learning society. It is a dynamic hub designed to cater to learners, students, scholars, academics and the wider public. 

The R54 million building, which was funded by the Department of Higher Education and Training’s Infrastructure Efficiency Grant, aims to democratise the public’s access to science. Scientists will share complex concepts with the public and engage in discussions with them, while the exhibitions will be interactive.

Higher Education, Science and Innovation minister Professor Blade Nzimande addresses awe-struck guests, inclusive of school pupils, inside the digital dome of the Nelson Mandela University’s multimillion rand, state-of-the-art Science Centre. 

The Centre is the most sophisticated in the country to date, with only two other comparable ones in Cape Town and Bloemfontein. Its centrepiece is a 15-meter digital dome/auditorium, which offers a unique immersive space for learning and visualising spatial models in an engaging and entertaining format.

It is akin to an IMAX theatre, but on a grander scale, fully enveloping the viewer. School learners who visit will enjoy a comprehensive tour, including a 3D show featuring videos showcasing topics such as life underwater or the potential for life in outer space. 

Minister Nzimande said the University's Science Centre will be an innovative hub of excellence, leveraging immersive technologies to support increased interest in learning. 

“It will also seek to prop up interest in research and collaborative work within the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematical areas of research inquiry,” said Minister Nzimande. 

“This science centre will expose learners to a multiplicity of careers in the sciences as the country looks into creating more pathways for young people to take this country into the future. 

“We also see this science centre as making a significant contribution to raising the research profile of Nelson Mandela University. At the moment, you have four research chairs under the South African Research Chairs Initiative (SARChI). The hope is also that this science centre will spur other researchers into action, thus expanding your equitable share on the SARChI scheme.

“The launch of this Digital Dome today is truly a historic development, and a further illustration of our commitment to advancing science in South Africa.”

Professor Sibongile Muthwa, Vice-Chancellor of Nelson Mandela University, said:

“As Mandela University we are exceedingly privileged to host this very important strategic asset. This Centre will go a long way in making real our ambition of advancing science for society. South Africa, needs to do more to animate love for maths and science, as early as possible in the learning journey of the young.

"This Centre will put us on a higher path in our quest to become a knowledge-based, innovation and technology-savvy economy. It will inspire young people to become the next generation of scientists and innovators. We are grateful to our government for the unwavering support. 

The Centre will offer professional development programmes and workshops for educators, researchers, and other stakeholders involved in STEAM education. It will also provide training on effective teaching strategies, immersive technology usage, curriculum development and assessment methods to enhance the quality of science education delivery.

The two-storey, 137-seater dome comes with extensive open plan exhibition space, a 100- seater interactive teaching laboratory, another 60-seater digital space, a boardroom and office space.

t will also be used to host guest lectures, conferences, exhibitions and transdisciplinary gatherings. It will not only benefit the institution in terms of additional teaching spaces across all its disciplines, but the Metro and province more broadly.

Minister Nzimande also officially opened residences that his department funded. He said that due to the significant growth and changed profile of students in higher education over the last 30 years, universities and TVET needed more residence accommodation.

“To enable this, as government we made a commitment to the sector that student residences will be part of the Infrastructure and Efficiency Grant,” said Minister Nzimande.

“We are grateful for the support of our various partners, who helped in the conceptualisation and construction of this infrastructure. I also wish to commend the leadership of the university for their vision of investing in this infrastructure.” 

Higher Education, Science and Innovation minister Professor Blade Nzimande; Nelson Mandela University Vice-Chancellor Professor Sibongile Muthwa and the institution’s students dancing during the launch and plaque unveiling of the new residences on North Campus.

Nelson Mandela University Chair of Council, Ambassador Nozipho January-Bardill; Higher Education, Science and Innovation minister, Professor Blade Nzimande and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sibongile Muthwa briefing the media after the official launch of the student residence and Science Centre.


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