South Africa’s school children at crossroads with latest IT training

Over 100 school children aged between six and 16 across South Africa gathered recently at the University of South Africa in Pretoria to attend a five-day IT workshop hosted by Africa Teen Geeks (ATG), in association with Oracle, Standard Bank and the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC).

The event, which formed part of the ‘Festival of Code’ and #IAmaGirlGeek initiative, consisted mainly of unveiling to the children the ‘secrets’ of Coding for Alice and Greenfoot programming fundamentals.

The workshop was spearheaded by Robinne Burrell, a US-born TV personality, and overseen by Lindiwe Matlali, CEO and founder of Africa Teen Geeks.

Africa Teen Geeks is an IT centre of excellence based in Bryanston, Johannesburg.

It is believed that the Festival of Code could be a stepping stone towards establishing a three-year academic programme for young students to learn Java and SQL in preparation of careers in computer science.

“This is an incredible initiative to help historically underrepresented youth learn how to code and think like entrepreneurs to ideate for their own start-ups,” Burrell said.

Children also attended a Startup!Afrika workshop, which aimed at creating an idea for a startup and build a working prototype of their digital experiences.

Several startup ideas were created by the children and the best ones included Road Help, an Android app for navigating around real time road hazards and closures, Tetra – a smartwatch app for both Android and iOS that is a social experience as well as music playlisting, calendaring and video that incorporates holographic technology.

There was also Every Drop Counts, an app that delivers water by drone to impoverished remote areas of South Africa.  Another idea called Nkapese proved to be an app for women to help them plan their fashion for the day based on their mood.

As part of the workshop, the kids also participated in a Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) Session where they experienced 360 video creations, and created their own AR content for social media with the help of ‘drawsta’.

“It’s not just a local challenge but a global mission to help guide tomorrow’s leaders into the careers that have given us so much opportunity and access to co-creating the technology we all experience today,” Burrell said.

Burrell is currently the Executive Chair for the Television Academy Emmy Awards Group in Interactive Media, where she governs the Interactive Awards, among others.

Over the past decade, she has been at the forefront of technology working with both entrepreneurial and established Silicon backed companies who have helped define the new digital age.

Photo credit: ATG

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