The return to in-person learning at Silverlea Primary school in the Western Cape gets an exciting boost with the opening of a 4IR STREAM laboratory thanks to a partnership between Sakhikamva Foundation and local business sponsor, Polyoak Packaging Group. The launch is part of an ongoing roll-out of STREAM (Science, Technology, Robotics, Engineering, Aeronautics and Mathematics) laboratories that are igniting coding and robotics learning in SA schools. This is the first time a primary school has been outfitted with the fully equipped, 40-person tech laboratory environment that will promote the hands-on development of skills required by our changing world.
While the Department of Basic Education finally announced the pilot of its draft coding and robotics curriculum for Grade 7s in February this year, it is still going to take some time for SA schools and educators to get this vital aspect of 4iR education off the ground for millions of SA children. In the meantime, STEM education specialist, Sakhikamva Foundation has brought a sense of urgency to the imperative that our kids, especially those in under-resourced communities, do get an education that truly prepares them for the real world of work.
“The new STREAM laboratory provides a stimulating environment for development of STEM, that is Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, skills,” says Fatima Jakoet, the founder of Sakhikamva Foundation. “The classroom is furnished with technologically advanced equipment such as robotics, 3-D printers, drones, AI kits as well as engineering and science kits. For the educators and learners at Silverlea Primary this will ensure that their children, from Grades R to 7, can develop essential skills in artificial intelligence, design thinking, robotics, coding, aviation and space science.”
The Sakhikamva Foundation has previously opened STREAM laboratories at Lanseria Airport in Gauteng, Get Ahead College in the Eastern Cape and Goodwood College in Cape Town. The latest STREAM Laboratory at Silverlea Primary has been made possible with sponsorship from Polyoak Packaging Group. Group Managing Director, Jeremy Mackintosh says, “”You can’t just say you want to help shape the future. You have to roll up your sleeves and get involved to really make a difference. We’re delighted to be part of this initiative that helps to prepare the children of Silverlea Primary for a future driven by technology. Too often, children from under-resourced communities get left behind in education, which has lifelong impacts. We hope that the school’s new STREAM laboratory will open up many opportunities for their children to unlock their talents and take their places as future change agents and problem-solvers.”
The opening of Silverlea Primary’s STREAM Laboratory also fosters hope and excellence in the school community. Principal, Sharon Coetzee says, “We are very excited and grateful for this wonderful opportunity and investment bestowed on us by the Sakhikamva Foundation and Polyoak Packaging Group. The laboratory will promote a learning environment for kids with talents beyond the traditional curriculum. We will be able to lay the foundation for Coding and Robotics at primary school level so that our kids will have programming skills that will make them eligible to high schools offering continuing education in the tech and IT field. However, there are also other major benefits. Hands-on learning activities will help improve concentration levels; the laboratory environment will promote a culture for teamwork; and grappling with a curriculum such as robotics will evoke important qualities such as perseverance. Overall, our learners will now have a fantastic chance to be more prepared for the technological changes in the world.”
Sakhikamva Foundation is a non-profit organization, focused on the skills development of youth and children in the 4iR context. Through STREAM Laboratories and many other STEM enrichment programmes and activities, the organisation has engaged with more than 150 000 learners across the country. The roll-out of STREAM Laboratories is an ongoing effort to bring learners into quality tech spaces to explore, discover, create and learn new skills essential in 21st Century life.