Explore Data Science Academy has announced of an online course that is aimed at making ‘job future’ skills available to South African high school students. File Photo: IOL

DURBAN – The Explore Data Science Academy (EDSA)has chalked another local first with the announcement of an online course and a series of data science competitions aimed at making ‘job future’ skills available to South African high school students.  

The EDSA made headlines in late 2017 when it announced 100 free data science learner ships sponsored by BCX for its 12-month Accredited Skills Data Science Programme in 2018. These learnerships have since increased to 300 in 2019.

February 11, scholars between Grades 10 and 12 can access ‘Data Science for High School’ online. Priced at just R249 a month, the 10-month course teaches the fundamentals of data science and exposes students to Python programming, data visualisation and some basic machine learning algorithms. 

"As an academy, we’re concerned that vital future skills are not being taught at our high schools.  We’ve also priced the course to make it affordable to as broad a spectrum of scholars as possible," said Shaun Dippnall, a co-founder of EDSA. 

Dippnall added that the jobs of the future are very different to today and to succeed in 2025 youngsters will need to be creative problem solvers who write code and are able to solve complex software algorithms.

Data Science for High School is intended to do just that. From February 11, motivated scholars can begin accessing the course material, which will involve between five and seven hours of self-study a week.

Although the course is purely online, instruction material is supplemented by videos and assessments to help guide the student. Regular testing will advise students of their progress and provide necessary feedback.

In addition to the online course, Explore will be holding two competitions later this year, which will involve scholars competing against each other in order to solve complex problems using data science techniques. Entrance is free.

"These will be Kaggle-style competitions where we give scholars a problem, as well as supportive data, and a time period to solve it. Whoever builds the best algorithm wins,' says Aidan Helmbold, another Explore cofounder.

The winner per competition will earn R10 000. The second prize is R5 000 and the third prize is R2 500.  

“We are also excited to market this emerging profession so that our youngsters get to see first hand how cool data science is, and then have an option follow a career in this emerging space,” concluded Dippnall.