Good stuff is happening in Reiger Park, where tomorrow’s high school learners face exciting educational prospects. The ICT committee of the Ekurhuleni South Education District Office is planning a Centre of learning excellence in the field of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) which will provide students with better prospects for tertiary education, and for careers in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR).
Deputy Principal, Peter Arendse, is a committed and conscientious educator, who expressed his delight that Oosrand Secondary could participate in the JumpStart Programme. “It’s been painful to see our learners exiting the system without ICT skills or meaningful qualifications. This community is desperate to grow and develop, so we’re putting our best foot forward to make this project successful,” he said.
Community leader, Jabu Thomo, is a Programme Director for JumpStart. He was instrumental in setting up and monitoring the initial assessment tool, which examined the strengths and weaknesses in the current cohort of Grade 8 learners. Some 300 learners participated in a diagnostic assessment, which sought to discover which skills are currently well in place, and what gaps exist.
Each learner performed a digital test, which had been installed on all the available computers and tablets. “The students were clearly interested and engaged in the process,” said Arendse, who was amazed by the learners’ participation. He said, “Considering our students’ lack of ICT knowledge, I was surprised by how fast they caught on and by their interest in completing the test. The online focus was really useful and it helped learners who have difficulty with reading and writing, as they were kept busy at their own level.”
Arendse was excited to discover that many learners already have the skills that will enable them to go into coding and robotics. He said, “Our plan for the future is to develop these learners in ways that broaden their horizons!” He reflected on the significant amount of work that is yet to be done, including the development of infrastructure and WiFi connectivity, sourcing a supply of the devices, the need for teacher training, and further funding to assist in the upgrading of the learning laboratory.
Jabu Thomo reflected on the enthusiastic support from Oosrand’s teachers, who offered their personal laptops to help the learners completing the test. He said, “This partnership is a long term project that will enhance the area in ways yet to be imagined. It’s the only way to go.”
The JumpStart team will be returning on 1 November at the request of the School District.