4IR labs to provide schools with 21st century skills

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Sakhikamva Foundation, a science, technology, engineering and mathematics education specialist is rolling out what it calls 21st century science and technology labs in schools based in under-resourced communities.

The organisation is building 4IR STREAM Labs aimed at equipping school pupils with fourth industrial revolution (4IR) skills, including artificial intelligence (AI), coding, robotics, space science, astrobotany, virtual reality, augmented reality, Internet of things and drone flying.

This week, Cape Town-based high school, Goodwood College in Ruyterwacht, became the third school in SA to launch the 4IR STREAM Lab, which targets grade eight to 12 learners and their educators in a community of practise to develop creative, critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

The lab was built, in partnership with IT service management company, AYO Technology Solutions.

Cape Academy for Mathematics, Science and Technology in Tokai, Cape Town, and Get Ahead College in Komani, Eastern Cape, were the first schools to launch the lab.

Sakhikamva Foundation is a non-profit organisation which says it has touched the lives of more than 130 000 children through its range of science, technology, robotics, engineering, aeronautics and mathematics (STREAM) enrichment programmes, including connecting South African schools to multiple science projects under way on the International Space Station.

STREAM education focuses on the development of essential skills and knowledge, by enabling children to enjoy hands-on experience with the technologies that are re-shaping the digital economy.

According to Sakhikamva Foundation, many schools lack access to basic technology – teachers are not taught how to develop 4IR skills in the classroom; Internet access is far from universal and still costs too much; and schools in rural and low-income communities remain disproportionately cut off from the resources they need for 4IR teaching and learning.

“As a school with a long history, it’s our aim to enable our learners to develop to their fullest potential,” says Virginia Africa, principal at Goodwood College.

“In today’s world, and for the world of work that we are preparing them for, this is simply not possible without giving them hands-on access to the technologies shaping our world. The 4IR STREAM Lab is an incredible asset for our school, which will change destinies in our Ruyterwacht community.”

The Goodwood College STREAM Laboratory is powered by the Gamma education platform, and includes tablets and drones as well as AI, robotics and app-making kits.

Teachers are trained in STREAM philosophy and teaching methodologies, to be proficient to impart the skills to learners. Sakhikamva Foundation says it assesses the needs of both teachers and learners on a quarterly basis in order to enrich the school curriculum with 21st century skills.

“With the opening of this third 4IR STREAM Laboratory, we are delighted to welcome Goodwood College into our family where curiosity and wonder are highly prized,” says founder of Sakhikamva Foundation Fatima Jakoet.

“When it comes to educating the youth for the 4IR, which features world-changing technologies that are fundamentally disrupting the work that humans do, SA faces critical challenges. This fantastic new space for real 21st century skills development in Ruyterwacht is a strong, 4IR learning centre, fully equipped with tech and connectivity to empower learners to develop as the leaders, innovators and problem-solvers in their community.”

The companies are looking at rolling out more labs in future.

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