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Limpopo school wins Samsung STEM challenge

Staff Writer
By Staff Writer
Johannesburg, 05 Oct 2023
Limpopo’s Mbilwi Secondary School has been crowned winner of Samsung SA’s Solve for Tomorrow competition.
Limpopo’s Mbilwi Secondary School has been crowned winner of Samsung SA’s Solve for Tomorrow competition.

Samsung South Africa has announced Limpopo’s Mbilwi Secondary School as the winner of the local edition of its Solve for Tomorrow digital skills development competition.

The school received a cash prize of R100 000, says Samsung.

The hackathon-style initiative is designed to increase interest and proficiency in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) education.

In a statement, theelectronics giant notes Maphuthaditshaba Secondary School in Acornhoek, Mpumalanga, is second-place winner, receiving R50 000. Umlazi Comprehensive Technical High School in KwaZulu-Natal is third, winning R30 000.

The cash prizes will go towards STEM equipment for each school, according to their needs, states the company.

“We are proud to see this group of young people applying their minds to learn and help solve some of their communities’ problems, and hope such programmes spark the revolution for positive and sustainable change within communities,” says Hlubi Shivanda, Samsung director for business innovation group and corporate affairs.

Announced in March, this year’s competition was facilitated in partnership with the State Information Technology Agency (SITA).

It targets grade 10 and 11 learners from underserved communities, giving them an opportunity to gain tech skills, while solving some of the challenges within their communities through STEM.

SITA head of corporate affairs Tlali Tlali comments: “This is the type of public-private partnership that, when implemented effectively, can bring about extensive, positive and meaningful change in the country.

“The youth hold the key to the future and investing in them through such initiatives is a no-brainer. We are proud to partner with a like-minded organisation like Samsung in this effort to empower the youth and help shape the South Africa of tomorrow, while also giving a voice to those who were voiceless before.”

According to Samsung, Solve for Tomorrow reached over 1.5 million contestants in more than 30 countries around the world by 2020. The local contest kicked-off with 51 pre-selected schools nationally.

Participating schools had to identify problems in their communities that they could solve using STEM. With Samsung helping them with resources and mentors guiding them, they had to conduct research and develop prototypes.

The winning prototype, as created by the learners from Mbilwi, is a solution to fix all the potholes in their town’s roads using recyclable and sustainable materials that include discarded bottles they collected.

“This project has been a huge part of our lives in the past year, so winning it means a lot to us,” says Igoline Coelho, team member and grade 11 learner.

“We are happy that the competition allowed us to do something good for the environment, and hopefully, it will spark even more interest in others to work on making the environment better for all.”

“Winning this competition will help us keep our name on the map,” notes Mbilwi Secondary School teacher Tshifhiwa Tshidzumba.

“We are one of the top schools in the region and have made a habit of winning, and we are happy to keep it that way. We are grateful to Samsung and their partners for creating this platform for our learners to expand their STEM horizons.”

Pinky Kekana, deputy minister in the Presidency, adds: “In 2018, in line with efforts to improve the education system, the Department of Basic Education highlighted the importance of increasing the number of schools that focus on critical learning areas, such as science, technology, engineering, mathematics, as well as the arts.

“The skills acquired by the educators and the learners will benefit them beyond this competition. We look forward to seeing the inclusion of more schools from the underserviced communities in South Africa.

“We are optimistic that some of the solutions from this competition will eventually be implemented, thus putting South Africa on the map; with accompanying job opportunities for the youth,” comments Kekana.