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South African learners use AI and Robotics to solve community problems

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South African learners use AI and Robotics to solve community problems
South African learners use AI and Robotics to solve community problems.

STE(A)M educational company, I-Innovate has brought another 21st Century learning programme to South Africa to open up opportunities in our under-served school communities for learners to develop the talents and skills that are critical in this Digital Age. This term, Grade 9 students from Diepsloot Combined School are diving into fascinating Artificial Intelligence (AI) concepts; learning how to create and use AI to problem-solve and innovate in their own lives and communities.

Sponsored by IT service provider Tata Consultancy Services SA (TCS), the AI & Robotics for the Future learning experience engages Diepsloot learners and educators in exploring advanced AI technologies such as automation, machine learning, pattern recognition and neural networks through a series of hands-on, innovation sessions. Learners are introduced to coding and robotics for the first time, and will discover how to use these technologies for creative problem-solving.

“We’re delighted to drive this empowering, innovative tech programme in this Diepsloot school community supported by work with I-Innovate,” says TCS South Africa HR Head, Nikhil Dabhole, “TCS is committed to helping South African youth achieve their aspirations of gaining highly relevant, employable skills so that they can achieve better careers which will, in turn, support them in uplifting their families and communities.”

Technological advances, and particularly AI, are changing the landscape of industries, businesses and our day to day lives. The global talent shortage continues to grow as the skills needed by organisations evolve, but our educations systems fail to do the same. Now more than ever, we need to teach our children and communities the latest skills that will help them succeed in today’s tech-driven workplace.

Students need learning experiences that highlight the value of collaboration between people and machines to drive innovation. The AI & Robotics for the Future programme works with learners to highlight traits that make us uniquely human such as empathy, creativity and critical thinking, while learners enjoy hands-on experiences that highlight how we can work together with technology and AI to create better world.

As part of their sponsorship, TCS employees will be mentoring learner-led teams throughout the experience, both in-person and online, as they apply their new knowledge to a local or global challenge. The programme will culminate in an innovation competition where learners will present their creative solutions to real-world challenges.

I-Innovate CEO, Trisha Crookes says: “We believe that by making AI concepts exciting and accessible to today’s learners, we can help prepare and inspire tomorrow’s innovative problem-solvers. There is a growing need across industries for 21st Century skills such as problem-solving, creativity, collaboration and computational science. We want to introduce students to relevant and experiential new styles of learning that spark students’ passion in these subjects, and fuel that passion with real-world opportunities for their future.”

Having previously connected Cape Town schools to the International Space Station through the ExoLab programme; and KwaZulu-Natal primary schools to introductory AI and STEM programmes, I-Innovate continues to work with partners to bring global thinking and next generation experiential learning to South African learners. “AI & Robotics for the Future connects learning in the classroom to real-world opportunities and career pathways. It is an inspiring and highly relevant way to show children that they can make giant leaps in learning and be a real part of the solutions to some of our most pressing local and global challenges,” concludes Crookes.

Edited by Fundisiwe Maseko
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