New “App Store” and institute for artificial intelligence to promote technical subjects in schools in South Africa

South Africa intends to improve robotics and programming education in public schools by establishing an artificial intelligence (AI) institute.

Communications and Digital Technologies Minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni said the AI ​​Institute will be established in partnership with higher education institutions, notably the Johannesburg Business School of the University of Johannesburg and the Tshwane University of Technology, which are co-founders of institutions with the Department of Communications and digital technologies.

“It is vital that we invest significantly to give our youth access to modern training, skills and formal education. To achieve this, our basic education department has introduced robotics and programming as school subjects in primary and secondary schools.

“Currently, learners in over 1,000 schools are designing and producing robots both for play and for completing tasks that learners find tedious for human completion.

“Next year, learners in these and other schools that will join this category will participate in a national robotics development challenge,” the minister said Thursday during the G20 digital economy ministerial 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-sized enterprises, especially start-ups, to develop digital content.

“In this regard, South Africa will open an app store called DigiTech on September 13, 2022. We have made a commitment to our sister countries in Africa to ensure content producers from the rest of Africa can register their apps with the DigiTech App Store,” the minister said.

Bridging the digital divide

As technology transforms the way people work and live, Ntshavheni said governments have a responsibility to continue using technology as the primary catalyst for changes in the world that should drive accessible public services, inclusive growth and sustainable development.

She noted that the Covid-19 pandemic has exposed the negative impact of the digital divide on human development, particularly on the poor.

“In South Africa and the majority of developing countries, particularly Africa where the poor have been left disconnected, the poor have been severely marginalized during the COVID-19 pandemic because they have been deprived of access to basic services such as education, health and the ability to do so work was excluded.

“That’s why we’ve prioritized and finalized licensing of the high-demand spectrum, and also secured a commitment from our telecoms regulator to ensure spectrum license holders contribute to national broadband penetration goals by connecting key public entities such as schools, healthcare facilities and.” traditional authorities.

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

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

Read: Government Introduces New Subjects to Schools in South Africa