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Growing Up Africa builds, donates R110m 4IR campus to UJ

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Professor Tshilidzi Marwala, vice-chancellor, University of Johannesburg. (Photo: Karolina Komendera, ITWeb Brainstorm)
Professor Tshilidzi Marwala, vice-chancellor, University of Johannesburg. (Photo: Karolina Komendera, ITWeb Brainstorm)

The University of Johannesburg has received a R110 million Education Campus donation in Devland, Soweto, from Growing Up Africa to advance fourth industrial revolution skills in underprivileged communities.

Growing Up Africa (GUA) is a non-profit organisation that drives research-based development and design to build and equip resilient education structures for needy communities.

The donation was made possible by Deborah Terhune, founder and CEO of GUA, who conceived the project.

The donation will assist with the further development of an Education Campus Project in Devland, Soweto, south of Johannesburg.

The campus, which is already in development stage, is billed as a world-class facility designed to support education and community development with a focus on 4IR learning that responds to a competitive and ever-evolving global environment.

It is a pro-bono collaboration project for Growing Up Africa and the UJ.

The planned use of the campus includes the establishment of a centre to advance science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics for the benefit of the youth and the community, and ultimately, for ecological, social and economic sustainability, according to UJ.

As part of the project, UJ has collaborated with Accenture to introduce the Advanced Youth Centre, an initiative that aims to train 130 students this year in tech skills, with this number expected to grow to 300 annually by 2024.

Upon completion of the relevant course with UJ and the Advanced Youth Centre, the graduates will have the opportunity for placement within Accenture’s partners or client networks.

The campus will become a model for investment projects with a positive impact on previously disadvantaged communities. The campus will also support related fields, such as adult education.

Professor Tshilidzi Marwala, UJ’s vice-chancellor and principal, says the project is deeply rooted in the university’s strategic mission to address the country’s economic inequalities and bridge the gap in digital technologies, as underpinned by its agility in the 4IR space.

“This project resonates with UJ’s mission to inspire and serve humanity through innovation and the collaborative pursuit of knowledge. As a university, we appeal to other companies to contribute towards similar projects aimed at nurturing community ‘netpreneurship’ (cyber-based entrepreneurship) by offering programmes aligned to the fourth industrial revolution,” notes Marwala.

The Devland Soweto Education Campus comprises a state-of-the-art building that consists of a series of multipurpose teaching spaces, including classrooms and a lecture hall.

Terhune says she initiated the project because of her passion to address unemployment, especially through digital skills.

She was inspired by the work of philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, who believed the best way to use his wealth was to build libraries and universities, providing the ladders upon which the aspiring can rise. “I chose UJ because the university’s 4IR strategic objective resonated with this mission and vision.”

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