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SA learners venture into Java programming

Non-profit organisation, Africa Teen Geeks (ATG), in partnership with Oracle and Unisa, has launched the Junior Java Certificate programme.

The programme targets learners from previously disadvantaged schools across SA and it was officially launched this morning at Unisa’s Florida campus in Johannesburg. Over 100 pupils were in attendance at the event.

Under the partnership, Oracle sponsors the Junior Java Certificate programme while Unisa supplies the learners with its science labs across the country.

They are targeting learners from as early as grade three up to Matric.

Speaking at the launch of the programme, Lindiwe Matlali, ATG founder and CEO, said they aim to show vulnerable young people that, despite their circumstances, success is achievable with the correct application of hard work and tenacity.

She added that ATG is passionate about introducing coding to previously disadvantaged pupils. “We aim to bridge the skills gap that is evident in South African schools with a computer science curriculum that focuses on coding and basic computer skills,” Matlali noted.

She pointed out that learning these fundamental techniques empowers young learners. It builds their confidence, strengthens their abstract thinking and provides them with an ’employable’ skillset, she added.

Matlali said the non-profit organisation is also engaging with the Department of Education in the training of teachers.

“We also recognise the important role that teachers play in the lives of young learners, and the daily challenges that these teachers face. Our teacher training programme equips teachers with valuable skills to help them manage their classrooms more effectively.”

The programme covers topics such as coursework content, lesson planning, teaching strategies and leadership techniques. “We believe that with community projects in South Africa, like this, future of the country looks bright.”

Jane Richardson, Oracle Academy director for EMEA, noted that their intention is to make the pupils creative. She added that by learning Java – one of the most widely used programming languages – they were making the pupils more competitive globally.

ATG is also looking to empower girls to venture into coding via the #GirlGeek campaign. Matlali noted that in SA there is 55% female workforce but only 20% of women are in ICT careers. Only 23% of girl students doing IT at school, she said.

“Our mission is to inspire young girls to pursue computing carreers and close the gender gap in technology.”