The SALT Collateral Benefits Programme (SCBP)

The SALT Collateral Benefits Programme (SCBP) was established during the construction of SALT (Southern African Large Telescope) and objectives of this programme were clearly directed at the benefits derived by society from building this large telescope. The current strategic proposal is based on modification of the previous strategies adopted by previous managers (Dr Nxomani and Mr Govender). It, however, takes into account the changes in context and also is aligned to the SAASTA , International Astronomical Union (IAU) Office of Astronomy for Development (OAD) and the Department of Science and Technology Decadal strategy for astronomy development in South Africa.


To utilise the knowledge, technology and other available resources within the SAAO and similar institutions in order to facilitate education enhancement, science communication, socio-economic development and public engagement and thereby contribute to the improvement of the quality of life of all people within reach.


Significant contribution to the realisation of the NRF vision: A prosperous South Africa and African continent steeped in a knowledge culture, free of widespread diseases and poverty, and proud contributors to the well-being of humanity.

Core Missions

The SCBP will focus on:

  • Education in Mathematics, Science, Engineering, and Technology to supply the country and the continent with well trained and motivated professionals in substantially increased numbers.
  • Science Communication and Awareness to effectively engage with the public in order to disseminate relevant information in the fields of astronomy and space science.
  • Socio-Economic Development in order to contribute to a better quality of life for all people, especially the disadvantaged.
  • Public Engagement in order to produce and encourage a scientific literate, conscious and critical citizenry
  • Cross-cutting Strategic Priorities (Underlying Principles)
  • These will apply to all activities carried out by the SCBP and will each be given due recognition within the context of a specific project.
  • Inspire a culture of thinking and a desire to learn.
  • Support disadvantaged people and address societal imbalances.
  • Encourage collaboration both nationally and internationally.
  • Support and enhance rather than reinvent programmes.
  • Ensure adequate monitoring, evaluation and quality assurance.
  • The emphasis will be placed on production of materials for education and awareness; the establishment of structures for continuity and sustainability; establishments and collaboration with various networks.

Large science projects like the Southern African Large Telescope (SALT) have the power to transform society through education, inspiration and capacity-building. The SALT Collateral Benefits Programme (SCBP) uses knowledge, technology, and other resources produced by SALT to improve quality of life through education, science engagement, and socio-economic development.

The SCBP focuses on four pillars to achieve these goals:

  • Education in Mathematics, Science, Engineering and Technology to produce more well-trained and motivated professionals in these fields
  • Science Communication and Awareness to share relevant astronomical research with the public
  • Socio-Economic Development to reduce inequality, improve livelihoods and boost quality of life
  • Public Engagement to encourage a scientifically literate, conscious and critical citizenry

Outreach & engagement

Humanity has observed the stars for millennia, and modern astronomy provides a great platform to connect South Africans to science, research and the natural world. Every year, the SAAO introduces thousands of school learners and members of the general public to the wonders of our universe. SAAO astronomers host school groups and public tours in Sutherland, and SAAO opens the doors of the Observatory in Cape Town to the public at its fortnightly Open Nights .

School tours and events

The SAAO is committed to astronomy education, communication and development. As part of this commitment, it offers an education and outreach programme to schools.

The SAAO also offers stargazing visits to schools, and takes part in science exhibitions like SciFest Africa and Techno X. If you are a teacher and would like us to come and visit your school (or would like your learners to visit the SAAO), please send us an enquiry.

Book a School Tour

Sutherland Community Development Centre

The Sutherland Community Development Centre (SCDC) is an SAAO initiative sponsored by the Department of Science and Innovation to translate SAAO’s scientific and technological work into benefit for communities in the Sutherland region. The SCDC aims to:

  • Provide a platform where SAAO intellectual property in Sutherland could be used to contribute meaningful to the community
  • Provide a platform for programmes that address socioeconomic challenges within the Sutherland community
  • Provide educational resources and tools that will enhance learning in Sutherland schools, specifically in maths and science
  • Help local community members access opportunities for study, bursaries, employment, skills development and funding for small business development
  • Create a culture of continuous learning and development in Sutherland
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