Students in South Africa are getting some much-needed coding lessons from a unique visitor: Marty the Robot

As part of the Helping Hands Project— an initiative between Scottish EdTech startup Robotical, South African NGO Got Game, and Nokia — Marty is traveling to schools in disadvantaged regions throughout the country to teach kids how to code. Marty is both programmable and customizable, so kids can program him themselves. Marty is expected to give a big educational boost to kids throughout South Africa, where only 27% of students who’ve been at school for six years know how to read.

“We have run initiatives in the past on a smaller scale with great success,” Keane Small, project lead of Got Game, told DIGIT. “Many of the children we work with have never had access to a computer, so our aim is to bridge the gap between those that do and those that don’t. By doing so we hope we can equip all children across South Africa with the skills needed for the job market of the future.”

To date, Marty has visited Cape Town and the Limpopo region and is now on his way to schools in other cities throughout the county. 

In China, EdTech is booming thanks to the country’s strategy to increase STEM in classroom curriculums: Invigorating China through Science and Education. To meet demand, the Chinese edTech company Roborobo is working with over 15,000 schools, where it teaches robotics to roughly 200,000 kids. In April, the company hosted the Roborobo National Robotics Contest, where kids got to build and program their own robots.

“Our plan is to grow from 500 outlets to 1,000 outlets in three years,” Roborobo Chairman Jason Hou told CGTN. “In the first few years, we found it hard to do business outside the big cities. But in the past couple of years, we saw significant demand increase in 4th and 5th tier cities and the competition in small cities is less fierce.”

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