During the COVID-19 pandemic, many schools around the world have had to hold classes online. For schools in developing countries, where many regions lack adequate internet and broadband access, the transition has been devastating. According to the World Economic Forum, 250 million students in primary and secondary schools in Africa cannot attend school due to the pandemic. Currently, Africa lacks a continent-wide broadband infrastructure, free, high-quality online education, and access to STEM education curriculums. 

In March, Africa Teen Geeks (ATG), the largest computer science nonprofit in the continent, partnered with the Department of Basic Education in South Africa to launch the STEM Digital Lockdown. The project, which uses the artificial-intelligence-based MsZora platform, is helping half a million South African school children access classes through the internet. Nevertheless, there are still 12 million children in the country that still don’t have access.

To help solve the problem, South Africa’s Department of Basic Education is creating a coding & robotics program for school children. The country aims to provide virtual learning infrastructure to 76 education districts in South Africa, and to equip teachers with computer skills, according to BusinessTech. It’s also focused on giving students STEM skills that will prepare them for technical jobs in the future.

“In this 2019 alone, we offered computer skills training to over 43,774 teachers. In the same year, we enrolled some 72,000 teachers in Coding pedagogy with one of the prestigious and largest universities on this continent, the University of South Africa (UNISA),” Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga said recently during a 2020 World Teachers’ Day virtual event.

Motshekga added that a handful of South African schools will partner with businesses, including Google and Teen Geek, to pilot coding programs in schools. 

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