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Enterprise software development company, Software AG has partnered with the Sakhikamva Foundation to celebrate Africa Code Week by visiting 5 underprivileged schools across Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal. Armed with laptops, gadgets and knowledge, over 1000 learners were inspired with an introduction to the power and potential of coding.

“These kids need to be prepared for the jobs of the future,” said founder of the Sakhikamva Foundation, Fatima Jakoet. “The problem is school curriculums don’t cater for this future. While we can’t change the curriculum, we can ignite a passion, and get them to start thinking about their futures.”

Learners were exposed to foundational coding languages known as block based code and shown how to create simple, tangible outcomes using their own code.

Debbie Diana, an IT Educator at Durban Preparatory High School said, “We grab every opportunity we can to expose our learners to such things. As long as the learners get that little spark; that’s all that we want.”

She shared the story of one boy in the session, “I purposefully gave him the tablet. The one used to control the car and code the movements. I did this so that he could engage and he did. But if I were to give him a textbook, it’s a different story. You can actually see the fear. But when he got the tablet, he managed and that car was moving and he knew what to do.”

The Sakhikamva Foundation is a registered non–profit involved in aviation awareness and skills development for the youth and children in the aerospace industry. The Foundation believes that the future of South African aerospace is tied to the youth. Its mission is to identify and develop skills to ensure a solid foundation is laid to feed the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) pipeline.

With Software AG’s background in fields like AI and software development, coupled with a unified interest in fuelling STEM education, the two organisations have always been primed to collaborate.

At the South African leg of Software AG’s global Innovation Tour in Johannesburg, the software company handed a cheque for R100k to the Sakhikamva Foundation and donated 40 tablets and laptops to be used in Sakhikamva’s outreach programmes, which included Africa Code Week. 

Software AG Head of Transformation, Ndazi Nokoane is a firm believer in transforming South Africa from the ground up. “The future of employment is going to continue to evolve whether we like it or not. As a participant in this change, we have an obligation to prepare South Africa’s youth for the fourth industrial revolution, and we focus on those who need it most.”

First introduced in 2015, Africa Code Week is a continent-wide digital skills development initiative that has engaged more than four million youth across 37 African countries to date. With the fourth industrial revolution already in motion, it is expected that the African youth population is set to more than double to 450 million by 2055.

The International Finance Corporation’s latest research proved that demand for digital skills in sub-Saharan Africa is expected to grow. The report estimated some 230 million jobs will require digital skills by 2030.

“This is the future we are preparing our youth for,” said Nokoane. “All STEM-related organisations should be doing the same. After all, this is our future workforce and they need to be ready and reflective of the country’s demographics. Education must go hand-in-hand with transformation.”