Lenovo South Africa and the Durban University of Technology(DUT) began an intriguing relationship that will teach young female learners coding and robotics skills in order to prepare them for the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) and beyond. The Robogirl 2022 program is being introduced by Lenovo South Africa in collaboration with the university’s Department of Information and Technology. This initiative is aimed at closing the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) gender gap.
Lenovo the Tech giant
Lenovo is a global Chinese technology corporation with a focus on designing, producing, and marketing consumer electronics, personal computers, software, business solutions, and related services is known as Lenovo Group Limited, or just Lenovo. Desktop computers, laptops, tablets, smartphones, workstations, servers, supercomputers, electronic storage devices, IT management software, and smart televisions are among the products that the company manufactures. The ThinkPad business line of laptops (which it bought from IBM), the IdeaPad, Yoga, and Legion consumer line of laptops, and the IdeaCentre and ThinkCentre line of desktop PCs are some of its most well-known brands. By unit sales, Lenovo is the biggest personal computer vendor in the world as of 2021. Lenovo has operations in over 60 countries and sells its products in around 180 countries
Helping the underprivileged communities
More than 120 girls in grades 10 and 11 from 15 schools in the eThekwini area, especially those from historically underprivileged communities, will be introduced to the ideas of coding and robotics as part of the Robogirl 2022 program. The program will culminate in an interschool competition where the many teams will have the opportunity to see their peers’ creativity and unique approaches to the same problem. Additionally, Lenovo supports DUT’s IT-related scholarships. The goal of Lenovo’s Smarter Technology for All initiative is to give underrepresented populations access to technology and STEM training. With a mandate to boost and cultivate interest in STEM, we want to diversify the talent pipeline in Southern Africa. When it comes to gaining access to technology and education in general, Lenovo believes in lowering the barriers to entrance.
Yugen Naidoo, General Manager, Lenovo Southern Africa said: “Both in South Africa and indeed around the globe, men continue to outnumber women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) ﬁelds, particularly technical ﬁelds such as engineering and computer science. Lenovo is extremely passionate about upskilling women and female learners in the technology arena and helping to bridge this gender gap. We believe the most innovative solutions can’t be created without diverse perspectives, and therefore we are investing in such programmes.”
The Kwa-Zulu Natal MEC for Education, Ms. Mbalenhle Cleopatra Frazer, attended the program’s opening and emphasized the significance of such an investment for the students. Prof. Keo Motaung (DVC(RIE), Prof. O Olugbara (Exec Dean), Dr. J. Wing (HOD: IT), and others from the Durban University of Technology were also present.
Mr Ebrahim Asmal, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Information Technology and program coordinator said: “There is a gender disparity in the STEM workforce as well as at higher education across the globe. Decreasing the gender disparity in STEM fields will provide more opportunities for women to generate fair income, as well as encourage professional and productive environments for women. Not only this, but the engineering industry can also tangibly benefit from an increase in gender and racial diversity because a workforce made up of varying genders and minorities creates team dynamics conducive to better problem-solving, produces better overall business management and reflects today’s increasingly differentiated customer base, all of which leads to improved business performance.”
Yugen Naidoo added: “At Lenovo, with programmes like Robogirl 2022 and others, we aim to play our part in helping to address this gender disparity and let young girls and women see for themselves the possibilities of entering the IT space as a career and be empowered to enter the jobs of the future. We look forward to seeing the short-term and indeed longer-term positive results of our investment in Robogirl 2022 and wish the Durban University of Technology and all the learners on the programme every success.”
Department of Basic Education add Coding and Robotics to its curriculum
The launch occurs immediately before the introduction of a new coding and robotics curriculum in South Africa, which acknowledges the importance of including computer science, programming, and languages in fundamental education. The pilot coding and robotics curriculum in a few classes, according to the Department of Basic Education, is “progressing nicely.” This year, the agency picked up the pilot project again after having to put it on hold because of the COVID-19 outbreak.
After being forced to cease the pilot study because of the COVID-19 outbreak, the agency started it up again this year. Following the harsh lockdown during the pandemic, rotational timetables were imposed in schools, which also had an influence on learning. The DBE has been conducting monitoring inspections at some of the 840 pilot schools across the nation for the past few weeks, according to the information posted on its Twitter social media profile.“For the grades in the foundation phase, coding activities are taught using digital platforms that are easy to learn and fun for learners to engage with,” it notes.
The DBE has committed to enhancing skill development and competencies to better equip students for the fourth industrial revolution in order to overcome SA’s crucial skills gap. A coding and robotics curriculum, according to the DBE, will improve students’ problem-solving abilities as well as their capacity to think critically, work creatively and collaboratively, function in a digital and information-driven world, and use digital and ICT skills to tackle common problems.
The DBE maintains that the pilot is in accordance with its priorities for education, which include giving students in all public schools the knowledge and skills they need to adapt to a changing world. The department said the curriculum would be tested in 1000 schools nationwide at the time. The department is concentrating on teacher upskilling as part of the pilot, working with higher education institutions to prepare them to teach this new subject. The full implementation for Grades R through 3, and Grade 7, according to the department’s annual performance plan for 2022–2023, is scheduled for the academic year 2023.
What is the purpose of Robotics and Coding in a curriculum?
Coding primarily consists of written instructions that a computer program or robot can read and follow. Students must decide what they want a robot to do, write the code to make it happen, and then send the code to the robot to see what happens. As they go through trial and error until the assignment is completed and the robot’s motions are carried out as intended, robotics gives them a practical way to see their thinking.
What skills do Robotics and Coding teach students?
Students must use both critical and creative thinking when writing code in order to instruct a robot in what motions to perform and to guarantee that the code is accurate. For a piece of code to work effectively, it must be precise and specific, and most of the time, it isn’t flawless the first time. The robot won’t move if the code contains any errors.Such projects inspire, foster, and attain perseverance through adversity, problem-solving, a sense of agency, and collaboration (when working in pairs).
Reasons To Learn Robotics and Coding
The tendency and interest in learning coding and robotics have grown along with 21st-century technology advancements. Given that devices based on the concepts of robotics and coding are all around us, especially among children and parents, many people have grasped the significance of these fields. Many people now feel the need to learn robotics and coding as a result of this understanding. It is crucial in this day and age to be able to use technology to carry out duties. Therefore, studying coding and robotics is crucial. Robotics and coding assist people in carrying out and finishing activities efficiently as well as thinking creatively and analytically, approaching problems from several sides, and coming up with rapid and lasting solutions.
Coding and robotics are excellent life skills to have in order to succeed in any endeavor. Work and careers are among these spheres of life. In any industry or area, having coding and robotics knowledge is always advantageous. Employers look for robotics and coding abilities regardless of the position or sector. One’s resume will be strengthened by learning robotics and coding, and it will also enable that person carry out and finish duties successfully and efficiently.
For the majority of engineering and data science roles, these desirable traits and abilities become necessities. Robotics and coding experts are employed by businesses like Google, Uber, Facebook, and Amazon. Additionally, mastering robotics and coding is incredibly beneficial for both aspiring entrepreneurs as well as those who want to have a successful corporate career.
Robotics and coding are required to be able to comprehend the future. In the future, human involvement in any aspect of life is very likely to be negligible. In actuality, it has already begun to happen. Robotics and coding are having a bigger impact on fields including banking, retail, communication, and education. Significant research has recently been done in the field of transportation for unmanned cars using robotics and coding.
Therefore, it is simple to think of coding and robotics as investment vehicles with the potential to generate very large returns in the future. Robotics and coding are incredibly useful in today’s environment, as everyone takes care of almost everything virtually and online. People who have received training in robotics and coding can use their knowledge to take care of their personal needs, or they can use it to earn money by delivering services through employment or their own enterprises. Therefore, learning robotics and coding will be very helpful for people if they want to survive and adapt to the future.