Coding skills initiative targets visually-impaired youth

Staff Writer
By Staff Writer, ITWeb
Johannesburg, 11 Sept 2023
Bona Africa trains teachers to impart coding skills to sight-impaired pupils.
Bona Africa trains teachers to impart coding skills to sight-impaired pupils.

Bona Africa, a partnership between Tangible Africa and Bona uBuntu, has collaborated with the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (SADTU), to train teachers from schools for blind and visually-impaired pupils across SA.

According to a statement, the training and development programme for blind and sighted teachers entails 16 workshops throughout September.

The teachers are equipped with tactile tools, with the Tanks Coding App also used to empower teachers, to help them introduce visually-impaired learners to the world of coding.

The approach is to use physical activities, such as games and pen-and-paper exercises, to enhance 21 century skills, such as problem-solving, strategy, communication, computational thinking and group work, say the organisations.

Bona Africa is a collaborative project between non-profit coding skills development organisation Tangible Africa and the Bona uBuntu Eastern Cape non-profit programme.

Professor Jean Greyling, Tangible Africa founder and head of the department and associate professor at the Nelson Mandela University Computing Sciences Department, saysfunds were raised through a crowd-sourcing drive to support the development of the Bona Africa tools.

“Inclusive education and ensuring all have equal access are shared objectives of Tangible Africa and Bona uBuntu. While Bona uBuntu strives to ensure partially-sighted and blind children develop their full potential and participate in an inclusive society, Tangible Africa is a coding movement spreading coding skills to as many people as possible across the continent,” says Greyling.

The initiative has already identified the participating schools and hosted workshops in the Free State, KwaZulu-Natal, Northern Cape and Eastern Cape. It is also working to make its training material available in braille, adds Greyling.

Last year, Tangible Africa partnered with various teacher unions to train 17 000 teachers across SA to implement coding in their classrooms.

SADTU VP Faseega Solomon welcomes the opportunity to again partner with Tangible Africa on this project.

"The ability of the Tangible Africa facilitators to impart knowledge and skills in an engaging and interactive manner has been greatly appreciated by those SADTU teachers who have already attended the training sessions.

“After the training, teachers indicated they felt confident and excited to teach coding to their blind and visually-impaired learners using the specialised adapted kits," notes Solomon.