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Various schools battled for the first prize this week in an effort to solve tomorrow’s global challenges in a competition labeled Solve for Tomorrow Schools Competition.
The competition was held at the Birchwood Conference Centre and was run in partnership with the state Information Technology Agency (SITA) aimed at providing grade 10 and grade 11 pupils from underprivileged communities with an opportunity to gain invaluable skills using Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths to solve challenges they faced in their communities.
Mbilwi Secondary School from Venda, Limpopo walked away with a R 100 000 cash prize with runner up Maphuthaditshaba Secondary School from Acornhoek Mpumalanga walking away with R 50 000. In Third place was Umlazi Comprehensive Tech from KwaZulu-Natal walked away with R 30 000.
The cash prizes were intended to go towards STEM equipment for each school.
The problem that needed fixing – The competition
A fleet of schools went into the competition in with a single task, to identify problems in their communities that they could solve using STEM.
A part sponsor, Samsung assisted with resources and mentors, while guiding the different competitors, who had to research and develop prototypes for the challenges they identified.
The winning school, Mbilwi Secondary developed a solution that outwitted the competition by developing a possible new solution for potholes.
The innovative solution was to fix all potholes in their town’s roads using recyclable and sustainable materials that include discarded bottles collected.
“This project has been a huge part of our lives in the past year so winning it means a lot to us. We have really worked hard as a team as we met every day to put in the work needed to get us not just over the line but victoriously so, therefore winning is awesome. This win will also encourage other learners in our school to participate in such competitions. We are happy that the competition allowed us to do something good for the environment and hopefully, it will spark even more interest in others to work on making the environment better for all,” said Igoline Coelho, team member and grade 11 learner.
Teachers few words
Thier teacher Tshifhiwa Tshidzumba added: ” Winning this competition will help us keep our name on the map. We are one of the top schools in the region and have made a habit out of winning, and we are happy to keep it that way. So winning such contests serves to reinforce our status as a great school with a highly competitive edge. We are proud of our learners and their achievements because we don’t enter competitions just to add the numbers; we enter to win. When we compete, regardless of the contest or the opponents, we always want to be number one. We are grateful to Samsung and their partners for creating this platform for our learners to expand their STEM horizons.”
Deputy Minister in the Presidency Pinky Kekana, in lauding the young minds said in efforts to improve the education system, the Department of Basic Education highlighted the importance of increasing the number of schools that focus on critical learning areas such as science, technology, engineering, mathematics, as well as the arts.”
“The skills acquired by the educators and the learners will benefit them beyond this competition. We look forward to seeing the inclusion of more schools from the underserved communities in South Africa. We are optimistic that some of the solutions from this competition will eventually be implemented, thus putting South Africa on the map; with accompanying job opportunities for the youth.”
Solve for Tomorrow is Samsung’s ambitious effort to increase interest and proficiency in STEM, and also help the country contribute to the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The competition encourages innovative thinking, creative problem-solving, and teamwork among the learners as they grow and learn important skills that could benefit them greatly in their future careers.
“Samsung is invested not only in contributing to the country’s advancement in technology but also its socio-economic growth. As one of the tools for improving the country, the drive for youth employment is something the company is actively involved in and is pushing through various initiatives. As one of them, Solve for Tomorrow does this by helping equip the youth with various technological, artisanal and electronic skills. We are proud to see this group of young people applying their minds to learn and help solve some of their communities’ problems and hope such programmes spark the revolution for positive and sustainable change within communities,” said Hlubi Shivanda, Samsung’s Director for Business Innovation Group and Corporate Affairs.