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Komani school receives innovative laboratory

AN exciting world of drones, 3D printing, robotics and artificial intelligence has opened up for the learners and teachers at the Get Ahead College in Komani, with the establishment of a Fourth Industrial Revolution (4iR) STREAM laboratory at their campus recently.

The 21st century science and technology centre, a project of STEM education specialist, Sakhikamva Foundation, sponsored by Software AG, introduces the Grade 8 -12 learners and their teachers at Get Ahead College into a unique community of developing creative, critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

STREAM (science, technology, robotics, engineering, aeronautics and mathematics) education is focused on the development of essential skills and knowledge, by enabling children to enjoy hands-on experience with the technologies that are reshaping our world, which is an important priority for education in South Africa, where many learners matriculate without ever getting their hands on a computer.

Kholiwe Makhohliso, country managing director for Software AG South Africa, said community and skills development has formed a big part of their commitment to transformation goals.

“It is a commitment that is deeply rooted in uplifting communities and bringing access to technology and tools for the enhancement of skills aimed at South Africa’s youth.

“This has led us to fund initiatives that put meaningful ideas into action; to directly improve the well-being of our communities and to set examples for the future,” said Makhohliso.

“We believe access to 4iR skills is a necessity and no-one should be left behind.”

Makhohliso said they had, therefore, chosen to partner with Sakhikamva Foundation, to establish innovation labs and 4iR classrooms in previously disadvantaged communities.

Sakhikamva Foundation is an NPO which has touched the lives of more than 130 000 children through its range of STREAM enrichment programmes, which have connected schools in the country to science projects underway on the International Space Station.

When it came to educating the youth about 4iR, which featured world-changing technologies which are fundamentally disrupting the work that humans do, South Africa faced critical challenges.

Many schools lacked access to basic technology; teachers were not taught how to develop 4iR skills in the classroom; internet access was far from universal and still cost too much, and schools in rural and low income communities remained disproportionately cut off from the resources they needed for 4iR teaching and learning.

Outgoing executive director of Get Ahead Schools, Mariette Visser, said schools had to prepare students for the fast-changing world of work.

“The Fourth Industrial Revolution is not in the future; it is already here. Get Ahead is fortunate to have makerspace rooms in both our primary schools where our students can tinker and develop design mindsets in a playful manner.

“Now our college students will have the benefit of a 4iR STREAM laboratory which will expose them to robotics and coding for the first time,” said Visser.

Vicki du Preez, the newly appointed head, said, confidence in 21st century skills would allow their students to take calculated risks and be resilient when they entered the workplace.

“We want to thank our sponsors for bringing this kind of technology to Get Ahead and the community of Komani.

“Teachers and learners will be excited and intrigued with the 4iR laboratory, and in this year of COVID-19, this is exactly what they need to enjoy school again,” said Du Preez.

Get Ahead’s invigorating STREAM laboratory is powered by the innovative Gamma education platform and includes tablets and drones, as well as AI, robotics, and app-making kits.

Founder of Sakhikamva Foundation, forensic scientist and pilot, Fatima Jakoet, said, with the opening of the STREAM Laboratory, they were delighted to welcome Get Ahead College into their family, where curiosity and wonder were highly prized.

“Teachers will be trained in STREAM philosophy and teaching methodologies, and learners will enter into a fascinating new world during their technology classes and through after-school activities,” said Jakoet.

“This is a fantastic new space for real 21st century skills development in Komani. It is a strong, 4iR learning centre, fully equipped with tech and connectivity, to empower learners to develop as the leaders, innovators, change agents and problem-solvers in their community.”

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