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ORT SA’s CEO’s SPEECH AT THE ORT SA STEM EVENT on 8 NOVEMBER 2017

“South Africa belongs to all its people

We, the people, belong to one another

Our homes, neighborhoods, villages, towns, and cities are safe and filled with laughter

The faces of our children tell of the future we have crafted.” 

South Africa’s National Development Plan 2030

The National Development Plan aims to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality by 2030. According to the plan, South Africa can accomplish these goals by drawing on the energies of its people, growing an inclusive economy, building capabilities, enhancing the capacity of the state, and promoting leadership and partnerships throughout society.

This ORT SA year-end event was inspired by the theme of “ Growing a Generation of Innovators”. The event shows the faces of our children,the stories they tell, the challenges they face in their communities, their incredible energy  and the solutions they have come up with. And now the future does seem brighter.

This showcase of the children presenting their completed coding projects is an example of how we, as a society can make a difference through education. The late Nelson Mandela, who was ORT’s first keynote speaker in the first ORT inauguration of technology teachers in 1994, is known for his passion for education and how he saw it as a powerful tool that can change the world.

You have observed this afternoon, the capabilities of children once the tools and knowledge-transfer are provided to them and you have also witnessed capacity building at schools through equipping the teachers  to teach Math and run the coding clubs

The coding projects presented by the children have shown more than just programming and computational skills. The projects presented, revealed curiosity and imagination which drives innovation, analytical thinking and problem solving as the children ask the right questions and get to the bottom of the problem. Working in collaboration and team work,  as well as communication and presentation skills. All this skills gained is to ensure that we grow generation of innovators that will craft our future.

ORT SA, is affiliated to World ORT with operations in over 40 countries spearheading cutting edge education.  ORT’s vision of educating for life and mission of making people employable and creating employment opportunities is the core of its work in the outreach communities. ORT  SA works very closely in partnerships with the corporates, government and stakeholders to combat poverty and unemployment through education and skills development.

WHAT TO DO ABOUT STEM – ORT SA CEO ARIELLAH ROSENBERG:

The STEM subjects of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math are not very popular and are perceived as difficult by most of our students and many of our teachers.  This poor perception and negative attitude towards these important subjects is part of a vicious cycle that is reflected in the poor performance of our students when they participate in National and International Benchmarking Tests, in both Math and Science.

Where does South Africa stand when it comes to creating a pool of STEM qualified professionals? Not in a good position at all! In 2012, statistic of the Grade 12 Cohort showed that 66% of these learners were ‘lost’ somewhere along the way, during the planned 12 year period of their schooling. Only 27% of the cohort, who completed matric, qualified to study for a degree, at a university. In addition to this, if we took 1000 children who started Grade 1 in 2001, only SIX of them would choose to pursue a STEM Qualification at a tertiary level, and of these SIX, only THREE would complete the qualification. (SASOL Inzalo Foundation Report).

There are many factors contributing to this state of affairs. One of the crucial ones is the poor delivery of the STEM subjects, by our teaching force.

This is why ORT SA has taken up this challenge and through its Robotics and Coding clubs in township schools is changing this perception on Grade 7 at a time.

In Robotics, the use of Technology for learning and development is done through the use of Lego WeDo and Mindstorm NXT Robotics kits. The children use the kits to design and build robots which, besides developing critical thinking and auditory listening skills, encourage the development of fine motor skills and hand eye co-ordination. If one is to succeed in Mathematics and Science it is essential that one becomes a critical thinker, and this skill is the major skill developed when one participates in Robotics.

South Africa can overcome its educational challenges with the persistent implementation of strategies, positive thinking and action, working in collaboration and partnership, and by working towards one goal – the child. We have to always keep in mind that investing in our children is investing in our future.  The most important contributing factor to this investment is first and foremost education, so we have to deliver high quality education, to ensure that our children will grow up to be responsible, contributing, independent citizens of South Africa.

 

WHY ORT SA IS INVESTING IN CODING 

 There are few schools in South Africa that offer coding as extra curricula and those that do are mostly independent schools. In previously disadvantaged schools, coding is almost nonexistent. ORT SA, an accredited non-profit educational organization, took up this challenge and in 2016 started coding clubs in Ivory Park and now has fully fledged clubs running in six primary and six high schools. “Ten-year olds have made the most wonderful projects including a digital thermometer, a security system and a digital music box,” says Ariellah Rosenberg, chief executive officer at ORT SA.

ORT SA is now broadening its reach and will be running coding classes at the new Curtis Nkondo School of Specialization in Soweto. Gauteng MEC for Education, Panyaza Lesufi said at the GDE Legotla recently, “We have to be in the centre of the 4th Industrial Revolution.” This is exactly what ORT SA is doing. The programme at Curtis Nkondo is funded by the Support Teacher Empowerment Trust.

While fulfilling its vision of ‘Educating for Life, ORT SA’s mission is to make people employable. “Kids who have developed programming and coding skills from a young age, should easily be able to enter into tertiary education and future jobs. Learning to code is vital in the increasingly digital world we live in and this is what ORT SA is doing,” said Rosenberg.

“ORT SA is a very exciting place to be,” said Ariellah Rosenberg CEO of ORT SA.  “With the 2016 launch of the ORT SA Academy, the organization has become a vibrant hub for the promotion of  21st century skills. Our mission of ‘Making People Employable’ has become a reality.”

THE ORT SA IT ACADEMY

Information Communication and Technology (ICT) is the top employment sector in South Africa. Following this trend, ORT SA’s training programmes incorporate skills transfer in basic coding, As a Cisco Academy ORT SA offers IT Essentials, together with basic coding skills, Microsoft training and Job Readiness, ORT SA is preparing youth from previously disadvantaged back- grounds for the job market by bridging the skills gap.

ORT SA STEM ACADEMY

ORT SA is committed to improving the standard of education in South Africa by focusing on training and support for teachers. External evaluation shows that pupils in the ORT SA programme have consistently achieved results which are double the national average in mathematics.

Bringing Robotics anc Coding technology to primary school pupils has a profound impact at every grade level. Combining the fundamental grounding of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) will impact on every future career.

THE ORT SA SKILLS & ENTERPRISE DEVELOPMENT ACADEMY

ORT SA’s innovative Skills & Enterprise Development Programmes enhance people’s future employment and business prospects by equipping them with proficiency in life skills, problem solving, cognitive skills, conflict management, computers, presentation techniques, financial management and business skills.

ORT SA is SETA accredited for New Venture Creation Qualification (NQF Level 2).

Since 1994, ORT SA has benefited thousands of South Africans through skills training, business mentoring and cutting-edge teacher support in maths, science and information technology ( STEM Education).

The fourth industrial revolution has resulted in the creation of new categories of jobs which impacts the skills set required for a digital world. “The ORT SA Academy aims to meet these challenges by bridging the unemployment and skills gap” said Rosenberg.