The third annual Learning Cape Festival has been launched with hundreds of events planned to promote lifelong learning, especially in rural areas.
The festival is an initiative of the provincial departments of economic development and tourism, education and labour and some stakeholders.
This year more than 150 organisations are involved, with events planned for rural areas such as Beaufort West, Worcester and Knysna.
A mega-event is planned for 2-4 September at the OR Tambo Hall in Khayelitsha with a Learning Fair and Exhibition.
It is about increasing awareness about learning, enhanced network building and improved connections between learning and work.
It is also highlights former President Nelson Mandela's message, "to make every home, every shack or rickety structure a center of learning".
Launching the Festival here today, MEC for Economic Development Lynne Brown said learning was important to economic growth and poverty alleviation.
"As a former school teacher I am aware of the important role learning can play in transforming and developing society," she said.
She said the province aimed to create 100 000 new jobs by the year 2008 and attract new investments worth R5 billion by 2006.
Education MEC Cameron Dugmore explained that the event would expose learners and educators to a range of career options, with much focus on Maths and Science.
"The focus on maths and science is an important thrust of our department," he said.
The festival, he said, would tackle some of the challenges faced by the province.
He said the Western Cape could learn some lessons from a province such as Limpopo that continued to deliver a high number of passes in maths and science despite a lack of resources.
The Learning Cape Festival has identified several icons, described as people with a passion for lifelong learning.
One of the Icons is Mr Hamilton Naki, who is credited with teaching heart pioneer Dr Chris Barnard a few tricks of the trade while an assistant at the University of Cape Town.
At 78 years of age, Mr Naki is still keen on learning and warns that today's children do not know where they come from, or where they heading to.
"They must learn, you never get old if you learn," he told BuaNews.
Nomathemba Kontyo, the Gugulethu learner who spent some time at the National Aeronautical Society of America recently is another Icon eager to be the first black woman astronaut.
She says people who love maths and science are seen as "freaks, nerds and bookworms".
"[But] science is interesting, you learn new things," Nomathemba enthused.
Dr Thebe Madupe, an astronaut, attributed his love for learning to his mother's influence, saying his passion for learning was ignited at the tender age of five.
"Learning should begin at home, schools have a role to play, but most of the work is done at home," he explained. -BuaNews