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With technological disruption upending entire industries and exponential technologies such as AI and machine learning automating ever-increasing numbers of traditional jobs, urgent interventions are needed to prepare today’s youth for the future. Some reports estimate that 80% of future jobs will be STEM-related, referring to work in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths. However, less than 1% of South African students who wrote final maths literacy exams in 2017 achieved an A, while less than 3% who wrote standard maths could claim the same.

“The future of work is uncertain. Every day we see new disruptors enter the workplace, radically changing and in some cases completely replacing entire job functions, industries and disciplines. We need to come together and foster collaboration between schools, NGOs, government and the private sector to instil the skills in our youth today that will prepare them for the future. Without that we will not overcome prevailing global challenges and achieve noble ambitions set out in the UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030,” says Mehmood Khan, Chief Operating Officer at SAP Africa.

SAP Africa through SAP Next-Gen has partnered with the German International Schools in Johannesburg and Pretoria as it conducts its biennial science week initiative, which aims to create awareness of science and technology in a fun, exciting and hands-on learning environment for learners between kindergarten and grade 12. Science Week was created in 2016 by the German International Schools in Pretoria and Johannesburg to plant the seed of curiosity in children, expose learners to a world of science and technology that is not available in schools, and to show learners how science and technology make up the fabric of life.

SAP Next-Gen is an innovation community that enables corporates, governments and NGOs to connect with students, academic thought leaders, researchers and other purpose driven partners. It forms part of SAP’s commitment to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and reflects the company’s purpose to embrace collaboration and innovate with purpose to help the world run better and improve people’s lives.

Thousands of learners from surrounding schools are expected to visit the two German International schools over the course of this year’s science week. Schools from surrounding areas that will participate include Norridge Park Primary, Fred Magardie Primary, Sikhanyisele Primary, Sindawonye Primary, Koos Matli Primary, Pula Difate Primary, Boikgantsho Primary, Makgatho Primary, Laezonia Primary, Seshegong Secondary, Bokgoni Secondary, Kgabo Primary, Motsweding Primary, Mahlahle Primary, Moetapele Primary, and Nka Thuto Primary.

“Science Week has brought in key industry and education partners to create experiments and projects that broaden learners’ minds, with a specific focus on STEM-related content. As we prepare for a future of work dominated by digital technologies and science-related fields, it is imperative that we instil enthusiasm and passion among learners for the skills needed to have successful and purpose-driven careers in the future,” says Kwena Mabotja, Africa Regional Director for SAP Next-Gen.

Other public and private sector sponsor, partners and participants that have contributed to Science Week include Bosch, ABB, CSIR, VUT, Siemens, Stiftung, Robert Bosch Stiftung, BMW, NISSAN, FESTO, SAP, JEFA, SciTech Now, myVentres, Lufthansa, CHEETA, DST, Master Complexity, German Embassy, MAP Movement, Rapid 3D, SANSA, The Red Chef, , Engineering for Kids, Science Forum South Africa (SFSA), STEAM Foundation, SciTech Now, Bayer, Nuty Scientists, SAIMC, Tshwane University of Technololgy (TUT), Abbatross, and PAST.

Mabotja adds that SAP Next-Gen in partnership with SAP Africa is running 20 sessions over two weeks, focusing on three key skills areas. “We are introducing learners to coding via hands-on Scratch sessions; conducting design thinking sessions to equip them with tools and techniques that can be applied in any problem-solving scenario; and exposing them to the new world of exponential technologies through an IoT demo. As an active and engaged corporate citizen, SAP Africa is proud to support initiatives aimed at directly addressing the key issue of skills development among African youth and look forward to seeing the program grow over the coming years.”

Science Week 2018 officially kicked-off last week, 29 May and will end Wednesday, 6 June at the Deutsche Internationale Schule Pretoria and the Deutsche Internationale Schule Johannesburg. More than 3000 learners will attend and participate in Science Week 2018.

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