Mining organisation Glencore Ferroalloys is introducing a coding and robotics project in the rural schools around its operations in Limpopo and North West provinces.
In a statement, the company says the initiative, which is still in the pilot phase, provides training for selected learners and teachers on handling technology and data systems, as well as how to task computers and robots to perform routine, repetitive or hazardous tasks.
Glencore chief CSI manager Conroy van der Westhuizen says: “The project started when we identified the education needs and skills that will be required in future to assist communities and industries in delivering the required performance results in terms of machine learning and incorporating the internet of things (IOT) with artificial intelligence (AI).”
The company says with the evolution of future employment activities powered by technology and innovation, as well as increased reliance on machines to support human workers, it has become important for people to be adequately qualified and have the necessary skills in using technology and data systems.
“Integrating the physical and digital worlds, using AI, IOT, smart factories and autonomous machines to generate things are characteristics of the present fourth industrial revolution,” adds Van der Westhuizen.
Daniel Nanchale, a grade 11 learner from Tsukudu High School, is thankful for the opportunity to learn in preparation for the future. “Some robotics are based on academics to make one’s academic and everyday life easier through AI programs like study assistants,” he notes.
To address SA’s skills gap, in 2021, the Department of Basic Education (DBE) introduced coding and robotics as part of the national school curriculum.
Initially implemented in 25 000 schools, consisting of about 14 million learners and 420 000 teachers, the project was halted due to the disruption in learning caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, but has since resumed.
Full-scale implementation of the DBE’s coding and robotics curriculum project for Grade R to Grade 3 and Grade 7 has continued in 2023.