Opening up young minds to the potential of STEM2D

Grade 7 learners get their first taste of coding through in-school STEM 2D partnership with Standard Bank Tutuwa Community Foundation

The Standard Bank Tutuwa Community Foundation is partnering with JASA to provide STEM2D Programmes to a cohort of learners, from five schools in three provinces, for six consecutive years, beginning this year when the group is in Grade 7.

This month the students are being exposed to digital skill workshops, conducted by long-term partner Siyafunda. The students not only get to learn the basics of how to use a computer but are also introduced to the coding language, Scratch, on the second day, where they learn to programme a computer game.

The workshops occurred at the Ndabeni, Beretta and Timbavati Combined primary schools in Acornhoek, Mpumalanga, on 8 and 9 November. Further workshops will take place later in the month at Setshabelo Primary School, Welkom and Mathlasedi Primary School in Krugersdorp.

By all accounts this experience has made a lasting impression of the students in Mpumalanga. In the interactive workshops, the emphasis was on learning through fun, and there was even time to play a tug-of-war. Students were so proud when they got to present how they had coded the games to work.

Siyafunda facilitator Lutfiyya Patel interviewed two students from Ndabeni Primary School. Ntsako says that even though it was a little hard, it was really fun and she was surprised how quickly she could understand enough to start coding. She is hoping to use this programme in the future and was happy to learn the basics of using a computer combined with learning the beginnings of a coding language. Another 13-year old in the class, Nolenbangu, also expressed her excitement at learning to code a game that she could then see in real-time. She hopes that she will have further opportunities to learn more coding, as she grows up.

Loads of interactive fun is built into the workshops.

     

For an overview of the project, and the progress made so far, see this earlier article:

Six-year pilot will expose 600 students to successive STEM2D Programmes


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Nelly Mofokeng attended Accelerating Inclusive Youth Employment conference

Accelerating Inclusive Youth Employment conference – Nelly Mofokeng reports back

In early October the Jobs Summit ended with an ambitious agreement that entailed a target of creating around a quarter of a million new jobs annually. This was followed by the fifth annual Accelerating Inclusive Youth Employment conference, convened in Stellenbosch towards the end of October, by Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator, the Presidency, the Human Resources Development Council of SA, Yellowwood, and the Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection.

JA South Africa MD Nelly Mofokeng was one of the 250 leaders from business, government, labour, and the social sector who came together to shape a path forward to ensure that more youth are empowered to be employed or to create self-employment.

“Overall, this highly networked and results-driven conference got each stakeholder introspecting on their role and how they can improve their contributions to alleviating youth unemployment,” explains Mofokeng.

Currently R200 billion is spent each year by government and the private sector on training and skills development but the conversion rate to employment doesn’t even reach 10%.

Thus, educational initiatives need to result in more youth being either employed or empowered to self deploy. In the spirit of seeking inclusive solutions, young people shared their stories and were part of the discussions.

Mofokeng explains how delegates could share insights and best practices in “action labs” that focused on sectors that can be developed to enable job creation, namely:

  • Business process services
  • Installation, repair and maintenance

The need to unlock demand and the role technical and vocational education and training (TVET) institutions need to play, including the artisanal pathway was a focus in the discussions in this lab

  • Digital tech
  • Township enterprise and social economy

A primary takeaway from the event was that tackling the challenge of inclusive socio-economic growth will entail a diverse range of coalitions that come up with scalable solutions.

Insights from the Job Summit will inform the planning of youth labour market transitions, which will include:

  • Shaping interventions to create pathways at TVET colleges
  • Increasing local procurement
  • Advancing more projects in key economic sectors such as manufacturing, infrastructure development, business processes and services to provide more entry level jobs

The need to have a clear understanding of what drives youth unemployment – and the associated costs – was on the agenda, added Mofokeng

Factors that contribute to the constraints or support the participation and progression of young people can include the intangible cost of seeking employment, such as data and telephone costs, transport to an interview etc. Aspects of the Jobs Fund were discussed, which included the funding window, supply and demand, the success stories and the challenges. The recently launched  Youth Employment Service initiative was also on the agenda, with an overview of the progress made thus far provided.

In terms of digital skills, the plan to increase foreign direct investment over the next years could entail the burgeoning of good jobs in contact centres, data centres and knowledge, which means digital skills will become more in demand, CEO of Business Leadership SA explained in an article on Business Live. Youth need to be groomed as coders, data analysts, data scientists and software engineers.

In the JA South Africa Youth Enterprise Development Programme, partner Siyafunda provides ICT training and our pilot five-year project with the Standard Bank Tutuwa Community Trust includes coding workshops. We are currently looking at other potential pilots to provide digital skills as part of our programmes.

 

Finding innovative solutions to the problem of youth unemployment has become imperative and JA South Africa will continue to participate in these important events.


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Advancing a culture of entrepreneurship in schools

The Foundation for the Advancement of Entrepreneurial & Technology Education hosted a conference earlier this week, on 13 and 14 August, at GEN Africa at 22 On Sloane, supported by JASA.

Founder of the organisation, Simon White, spoke about the implementation of entrepreneurial education in a school, based on his direct experience as principal of Chartwell Leadership Primary.

In the five years since Chartwell opened, the school has set a high academic standard while shaping an entrepreneurial culture. Not only is entrepreneurship embedded into the formal school curriculum but children are encouraged to start up businesses and save their profits. By age five, learners already understand the four means of production and some are even testing their first business ideas.

One of Chartwell’s young entrepreneurs is 11-year-old Latoya. After learning to knit at school, she passed on this skill to five fellow learners and together they knitted scarves to sell. The R300 they made has enabled them to grow the business with Latoya now Iearning to sew and do embroidery. Another 11-year-old, David, has diversified from knitting, which earned him R800, to selling Tupperware to family members. Learners at the school are also currently being taught to make cheese and milk. The aim is for students to have saved between R15 000 and R20 000 by the time they leave school to use for studies or kickstarting businesses.

Chartwell is setting a benchmark for entrepreneurial education nationwide and this conference marks the next phase of the foundation, which is to extend the learning to 20 other schools.

White explained that the foundation has done extensive research on introducing entrepreneurship in schools. After analysing what is currently available, the gaps in the curriculum were identified. As one example, time management is usually only taught at university level but it is a critical skill that should be introduced to learners at a far younger age. The ability to cope with studies and other activities successfully depends on being able to prioritise and use one’s time well. The research phase also entailed studying global best practices and consulting relevant stakeholders.

JASA has been running financial literacy programmes at Chartwell and JASA MD Nelly Mofokeng presented on how the organisation’s entrepreneurial capacity can be leveraged in the creation of this culture of entrepreneurship. Then two JASA school programme alumni, Gugulethu Ngwenyama and Amohelang Molefi from McCauley House, spoke about the business journey of their company to cinch the top prize at JASA’s national Company of the Year Competition.

Hands-on, experiential programmes, such as those offered by JASA, fit well into the evolving learning model with its focus on projects that expose children to abstract problems they are encouraged to solve through discussion and collaboration.

The foundation also emphasises the need for fostering innovation and sharpening STEM2D skills in learners to prepare them to be productive in the emerging world of robotics, artificial intelligence and nano technology. Partnerships will provide related learning opportunities, such as with ZA Central Registry, which will be training 150 learners in coding and website development, and linking with the global organisation, ThinkYoung.

The foundation also aims to attract a target of 50 000 entrepreneurship members as a foundation for creating 10 000 entrepreneurs.


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