“We cross night”: some reflections on the role of the ESKOM Expo for Young Scientists as a means of accommodating disadvantaged learners into the field of Science and Technology

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 8
  • SDG 4
  • Abstract:

    This article critiques the role of the ESKOM Expo for Young Scientists as a particularly salient node in the constitution of young learners’ identity as prospective participants in the field of science and technology. The ESKOM Expo is seen as a particularly exciting means of providing access to the niche area of science and technology. Yet this attraction camouflages a number of pitfalls that learners have to negotiate. Looked at as a vehicle of accommodation of the scientific and technological aspirations of the young people involved in this research, the ESKOM Expo reveals itself to be problematic in various ways. Positioning itself within a postcritical ethnographic framework, this article considers these issues at two levels: a) the disjuncture between the bureaucratic institution of the expositions and the intuitiveness and spontaneity evident in the learners’ preparation for the exposition; b) issues of language and representation that tend to marginalise learners from working class backgrounds. It is argued that the institution of the ESKOM Expo, while undoubtedly useful as a means of opening up young learners’ horizons of science and technology, is still not sufficiently flexible, both at a conceptual and an organisational level, for it to be the vehicle of technological empowerment it is intended to be.