from BAATSHEBA RAMASHALA in Polokwane
POLOKWANE – LEARNERS from underserved communities in South Africa have gained invaluable skills while using Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) to solve some of the challenges within their communities.
Eventually, Mbilwi Secondary School from Venda, Limpopo emerged the winner of the Solve for Tomorrow schools competition, run by Samsung in partnership with the State Information Technology Agency (SITA).
It was aimed at grade 10 and 11 learners.
Mbilwi walked away with a prize of R100 000 cash, while in second place, Maphuthaditshaba Secondary from Acornhoek (Mpumalanga) received R50 000 and Umlazi Comprehensive Tech from KwaZulu-Natal got R30 000 for completing the top three places.
The cash prizes will go towards STEM equipment for each school.
Tlali Tlali, Head of Corporate Affairs at SITA, highlighted that the collaboration with Samsung happened after finding synergies in the area of corporate social responsibility,” he said.
“This is the type of public-private partnership that, when implemented effectively, can bring about extensive, positive and meaningful change in the country,” Tlali added.
The winning prototype, as created by the learners from Mbilwi, is an ambitious plan to fix all the potholes in their town’s roads using recyclable and sustainable materials that include discarded bottles that they collected.
“This project has been a huge part of our lives in the past year so winning it means a lot to us,” said Igoline Coelho, team member and grade 11 learner.
“We have really worked hard as a team as we met every day to put in the work needed to get us not just over the line but victoriously so, therefore winning is awesome.”
Tshifhiwa Tshidzumba, a teacher, said winning the competition will help them keep their name on the map.
“We are one of the top schools in the region and have made a habit out of winning, and we are happy to keep it that way. So winning such contests serves to reinforce our status as a great school with a highly competitive edge,” he said.
Speaking at the event east of Johannesburg, Deputy Minister in the Presidency, Pinky Kekana, said the skills acquired by the educators and the learners will benefit them beyond this competition.
“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,” Kekana said.
Hlubi Shivanda, Samsung’s Director for Business Innovation Group and Corporate Affairs, said the company was in addition to investing in contributing to the country’s advancement in technology by committing to socio-economic growth.
“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,” Shivanda said.
– CAJ News