Oosrand Secondary School in Reiger Park is a great spot to be. High school learners here face exciting educational prospects, and their appetites for technology have been aroused.
Planning for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)
The ICT committee of the Ekurhuleni South Education District Office is planning to develop a centre of learning excellence in the field of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education. Firstly, this aims to provide students with better prospects for tertiary education. Secondly, it exposes young people to the possibility of careers in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR).
Peter Arendse, Oosrand Secondary‘s deputy principal, is a committed and conscientious educator. He expressed his delight that learners could participate in the JumpStart Programme in future. “It’s been painful to see our learners exiting the system without ICT skills or meaningful qualifications. Therefore we’re putting our best foot forward. We want this community to grow and develop and we want this project to succeed,” he said.
Assessment of high school learners’ skills
It follows that Jabu Thomo, JumpStart Programme Director, was instrumental in setting up and monitoring the initial assessment. His aim was to examine the strengths and weaknesses in the current learners attending Grade 8. Thomo wanted to discover which skills were well in place and there were gaps.
The tests were installed on all the available computers and tablets by the JumpStart team. Thereafter, each learner performed the digital test alone. “Clearly interested, they engaged in the process with enthusiasm,” said Arendse. “I was surprised by how fast our learners caught on, considering their lack of tech experience. The youngsters completed the test eagerly and enjoyed the online experience. Learners managed the process well. Even those who struggle with reading and writing enjoyed working at their own level and pace.”
Good to see skills in place
Many learners already have the necessary skills to start learning robotics and coding. These results augur well. “We want to broaden our learners’ horizons, so that they reach their full potential. It’s a great goal to upgrade the learning laboratory. Consequently, we’ll need to put various things in place to secure its future success.” He said they would need to upgrade infrastructure and WiFi connectivity. “We’ll need to supply suitable devices and ensure that teachers are suitably trained. So too, further funding will certainly make a big difference to the school,” he added.
Oosrand Secondary educators help out
Processing 300 learners through the diagnostic assessment proved quite a challenge. There were not enough devices to go around, which caused some consternation. Oosrand Secondary’s educators generously offered their personal laptops. Jabu Thomo appreciated their thoughtfulness. In conclusion, Mr Arendse said, “These are early days in a long term project and partnership. We are all keen to see this vision materialise. It will enhance the area and reap rewards. We believe it’s the only way to go.”