The Mpumalanga Youth ICT and Business VacWork led by the Vuligqondo Digital Lab started today the 27th of June and will conclude on the 1st of July with presentations of the solutions and a Tech Debate.
A key objective of the Vacwork is to expose learners to ICT, leadership, team work, project management and presentation skills. Ms Tshegofatso Mhiko who is part of the Geekulcha Digital team added that the programme is designed "with an aim of equipping the learners with basic entrepreneurship experience, digital skills, soft skills and coding/design skills".
The VacWork programme is set out to challenge young minds to innovate the agricultural sector in Mpumalanga to combat food insecurity, especially in rural communities. Up to chool 30 learners from the following schools are part of the programme:
- Siyabuswa primary school
- Mareleng primary school
- Ezwenilethu primary school
Furthermore, 9 post-matric learners who will form part of the post-programme development to build solutions for the three schools in support of the school gardening project.
The learners have an understanding and interest in agriculture. We Simphiwe Mahlomuza from one of the stakeholders broken down what commercial agriculture is, the types of soil and different farming practices. After getting the foundation, the learners then started stating challenges they would like to address in the agricultural sector.
One key community problem being a water shortage and pollution, the learners shared solutions to alleviate the issues they identified, using technology.
Once the foundation was set, the learners were taught the basics of robotics and programming. Fascination graced the learners eyes at the realization that they can build their own apps and not just download them. Their excitement grew at the thought of being able to bring their ideas to live.
The learners were then tasked with creating their own companies that consist of:
- One company provides graphics design services;
- Another is based on mobile app development and;
- Four are IoT based
All teams will build solutions (products or services) throughout the week as athey compete to build a tech solution that makes business sense.
Seeing them discuss their different roles and their target market was insightful. As young as they are, they acquired a deep grasp of how a business is run. With the youth unemployment being so high, the country needs more innovators and entrepreneurs. The experience the learners got planted a seed of entrepreneurship, problem-solving in them.