SA to create artificial intelligence institute to improve robotics and coding education

South Africa intends to improve the teaching of robotics and coding in public schools through the establishment of an artificial intelligence (AI) institute.

Communications and Digital Technologies Minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni said the AI ​​Institute is being established in partnership with higher education institutions, particularly the Johannesburg Business School at the University of Johannesburg and the Tshwane University of Technology, which are co-founding institutions with the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies.

“It is essential that we invest significantly in providing our young people with access to modern training, skill sets and formal education. To achieve this, our Department of Basic Education has introduced robotics and coding as school subjects in primary and secondary schools.

“Currently, learners in more than 1,000 schools are designing and producing robots both for games and to perform tasks that learners find tedious for humans to perform.

“Next year, learners from these schools and other schools who join this category will participate in a national robotics development challenge,” the minister said Thursday at the G20 digital economy ministers meeting. in Bali, Indonesia.

The government’s focus on digital skills includes creating platforms to support and promote the ability of young people and small and medium enterprises, especially start-ups, to develop digital content.

“In this regard, South Africa will launch an App Store under the name DigiTech on September 13, 2022. We have engaged with our sister countries in Africa to ensure that content producers in the rest of Africa can have their apps listed on the DigiTech App Store,” the minister said.

Bridging the digital divide

With technology changing the way people work and live, Ntshavheni said governments have a responsibility to continue to use technology as the main catalyst for change in the world that should advance accessible public services, inclusive growth and development. sustainable.

She noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the negative impact of the digital divide on human development, especially on the poor.

“In South Africa and in the majority of developing countries, especially in Africa, where the poor have remained disconnected, the poor have been severely marginalized during the COVID-19 pandemic because they have been excluded from access to basic services such as education, health and the ability to work.

“It is for this reason that we have prioritized and concluded the licensing of high-demand spectrum and also obtained the commitment of our telecommunications regulator to ensure that frequency spectrum licensees contribute to the national broadband penetration targets by connecting key public institutions such as schools, health facilities and traditional authorities.

“In addition, this year we will finalize the roadmap towards the deployment of 4G and 5G networks, including in rural towns. We continue to work to achieve the objectives of our South Africa Connect program to ensure universal access. to the internet by 2024,” the minister said.

The government is also extending email addresses to all state school learners/students and their parents as part of the basic e-learning requirements.

(With contributions from the South African government press release)

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