Nedbank donates N$450 000 to mobile planetarium
The contribution is symbolic of Nedbank's commitment to community development and educational empowerment.
A handover ceremony took place at the Unam main campus last week.
This donation, marked for distribution over the next three years at N$150 000 annually, aims to bolster the accessibility and quality of science education, particularly in remote areas where such resources are scarce.
The Unam/AMT Mobile Planetarium takes centre stage in this initiative. Designed to bring the marvels of the cosmos directly to students across Namibia, the planetarium addresses a crucial need in the country's educational landscape by providing hands-on astronomical education and inspiring young minds in the field of astrophysics.
The mobile facility is set to offer a spectrum of programmes tailored to different educational levels, ranging from basic stargazing to delving into complex phenomena such as black holes and distant galaxies. The interactive nature of these programmes aims to engage students directly, offering them the opportunity to learn from and work alongside expert astronomers.
Martha Murorua, managing director at Nedbank Namibia, underscored the strategic importance of the investment.
"Our support aligns with our commitment to delivering value to society by championing community development initiatives and enhancing access to educational opportunities in STEM. It is a manifestation of our belief in the transformative power of education and the upliftment of our youth, as they are the ones who will shoulder the mantle of progress."
Bringing STEM closer
The success of the planetarium was evident in the pilot phase of the project. In 2019, technical partners, including the Africa Millimetre Telescope Programme, Radboud University and the Netherlands Research School for Astronomy, trained experts in Namibia, and visite schools in remote areas across Namibia.
More than 1 500 children were introduced to the planetarium concept in a matter of days.
In May 2022, the first two Namibian planetarium operators, Lott Eraps and Hiko K?tiajta, were trained to conduct shows and train other trainees. Since then, the planetarium has visited more than 50 different locations, reaching more than 8 200 attendees.
The project's long-term goals include creating interactive resources for educators to use in conjunction with the shows and collaborating with the National Institute for Educational Development (NIED) to enhance the presence and integration of astronomy within Namibia's educational curriculum.
The anticipated impact of this initiative extends beyond immediate educational outcomes. By fostering greater interest in the field of STEM, particularly in astrophysics, the planetarium has the potential to be a springboard for cultivating a generation of professionals equipped for the demands of future jobs. These roles, often complex and highly skilled, could significantly enhance the earning potential of these future scientists and contribute substantially to Namibia's economic development.