WiSTEM2D activations with Johnson & Johnson

Over 1500 primary and high school learners exposed to WiSTEM2D careers

Recognising that the need for STEM skills is rapidly increasing, and that people employed in STEM careers earn 26% more than other workers, J&J has partnered with JASA in 2018 to provide Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, Manufacturing and Design (WiSTEM2D) opportunities for school learners in Gauteng and the Western Cape. Their aim is to inspire more girls to pursue studies and careers in WiSTEM2D.

Learners at Square Hill Primary and South Peninsula High School in the Western Cape and at Bonwelong Primary School and Eqinisweni Secondary School in Gauteng had interactive classroom sessions with J&J volunteers from all three business in South Africa. J&J also funded excursions to  the Science and Technological Advancement Centre and Sci-Bono Centre in Gauteng, and the Cape Science Centre.

Through this experience, the learners have been inspired by the diverse and exciting careers that could open up for them if they pursue studies in STEM2D fields. Thank you to J&J for the funding and thanks to all the volunteers who spent time with the students.



IT/ Coding workshops at Setshabelo and Mathlasedi primary schools 

Siyafunda is providing digital skills workshops at Setshabelo Primary School in Welkom and Mathlasedi Primary School in Krugersdorp

Digital skills workshops are being facilitated by JASA’s long-term partner Siyafunda over two days, where the students learn the basics of how to use a computer and are then exposed to the coding language Scratch. The hands-on approach enables the learners to code a game.

This is made possible through a partnership between JASA and the Standard Bank Tutuwa Community Foundation, where the same cohort of learners at five schools in three provinces, will be offered programmes for six consecutive years, beginning this year with the group in Grade 7, with an emphasis on STEAM2D (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics and Manufacturing).

The workshops occurred at the Ndabeni, Beretta and Timbavati Combined primary schools in Acornhoek, Mpumalanga, on 8 and 9 November. In this last week of November Siyafunda is training learners at Setshabelo Primary School in Welkom and Mathlasedi Primary School in Krugersdorp.

The students were exuberant when expressing their delight at having the opportunity to take their first digital steps and were proud that in a short space of time they had progressed far enough to present their games to their fellow learners.

To see some of the students presenting in Acornhoek, click here, and for more information on the partnership pilot, click here.


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

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.

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

Standard Bank Tutuwa Community Foundation partners with JASA to provide STEM2D Programmes to one cohort for six consecutive years

This pilot, which was launched this year, will continue until 2023, as a partnership between JA South Africa and the Standard Bank Tutuwa Community Foundation, with key implementing partner Siyafunda CTC.

The same cohort of more than 600 learners will be exposed to a range of Science, Technology, Engineering, Manufacturing and Design (STEM2D) Programmes, as they move from primary school through their high school careers.

The aim of this pilot is to redress the tendency in South Africa, which is mirrored on the rest of the continent, for learners to disregard careers in STEM in favour of other disciplines. It is estimated that only around 26% of graduates in South Africa graduate with a STEM-related degree, which is largely due to students not being exposed to STEM2D opportunities during their educational careers.

Tragically, the massive job shortage in South Africa is coupled with a skills shortage in STEM2D subjects, making it necessary to outsource jobs in these fields to foreign contractors. To compound the situation South Africa was ranked last out of 138 countries across the world for the quality of Science and Mathematics education, in The World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report 2016 – 2017.

In-school experiential STEM education programmes can expose young people to careers in STEM2D subjects. Since 2012, JASA has partnered with corporates to promote STEM education and careers to students through career campaigns. In 2016, in partnership with Johnson & Johnson, JASA successfully piloted the Opportunities Out There Programme focusing on encouraging young women to consider careers in STEM2D.

The following schools are participating in the six year pilot launched this year:

Krugersdorp, Gauteng

Matlhasedi Primary School and Madiba Secondary School

Welkom, Free State

Setshabelo Primary School and Letsete Secondary School

Acornhoek, Mpumalanga

Berreta Primary School and Acorn to Oaks Comprehensive High School

In this first year, the cohort is in the final year of primary school and are participating in JA’s Opportunities Out There – STEM2D Programme, with its variety of hands-on activities and technological supplements. These Grade 7s first learn what STEM2D is and progress to studying the professions in these fields, then learning what it takes to build a successful STEM2D business. In the subsequent programmes the focus will be on technology, entrepreneurship and work readiness.

In the course of the learning cycle, they will apply core STEM2D skills of research, analysis, application of findings, coding, algebra and structural design. A gaming and experiential approach will assist in keeping students engaged and interested, which will ensure retention.

JA South Africa is developing and providing the learning materials, and training the facilitators and educators. The Standard Bank Tutuwa Community Foundation is providing the funding and our key implementing partner Siyafunda CTC will provide computer technology and coding expertise. The Department of Basic Education has assisted with recommending the schools and professionals from business, industry and academia will be consulted, as needed.

In addition to the production of learning materials and implementation of STEM2D activities, JASA will be involved in:

  • Establishing networks of STEM2D role models
  • Arranging study tours to industries, businesses and universities
  • Selecting countries to partner with for student exchange programmes
  • Supporting readiness for university and college with STEM2D programmes
  • Running STEM2D related clubs and enterprises in schools
  • Monitoring and reporting on the programme

The aim is to prepare this cohort of students for meaningful economic participation in STEM2D fields when they complete their studies and refine their creativity, collaboration, critical thinking and communication skills.