As the country takes steps to boost Maths, Science and Technology in schools, Nelson Mandela University, Tangible Africa and the Leva Foundation are set to host thousands of young people in a coding tournament on Mandela Day.
Approximately 10,000 learners from across Africa and abroad will participate in the event, which is believed to be the biggest Mandela Day event in the country.
According to the Head of the Department of Computing Science at Mandela University, Prof Jean Greyling, the participating African countries include Ghana, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Kenya, and Uganda. Learners from Ireland, Germany, and England will also participate.
The event aims to honour the late president and Struggle icon Nelson Mandela’s contribution to the fight for social justice and democracy in South Africa as well as his belief in the value of education.
This is especially fitting as South Africa is currently facing a shortage of people pursuing subjects in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) but it is worth noting that the Department of Basic Education has made strides to boost mathematics, science, and technology among learners in the country by rolling out equipment and software to support new subjects including robotics and coding.
What will happen during the event?
Greyling explained that knowing how to code can be a springboard for careers in science and technology. Given the shortage of people pursuing STEM subjects, having these skills and knowledge can boost economic growth.
Learners who were introduced to coding will be eligible to participate in the #Coding4Mandela event.
The learners are introduced to coding concepts using mobile applications, RANGERS, BOATS and TANKS.
“This game has 30 levels of increasing complexity, introducing learners to various coding concepts that are taught in a first-year introductory module. The purpose on the day is for teams to complete on as many levels as possible in 30 minutes,” said Greyling.
The event started as a local tournament in Gqeberha in 2018.
However, last year, it grew exponentially to a national event, where a total of 6,000 learners from across South Africa and other African countries such as Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Zambia, participated.
More coding events
The event promises to be big, but non-Gqerberha residents can also enjoy the coding events that will be hosted in Qunu, the Captivity Site outside Howick, where Mandela was arrested; the Nelson Mandela Legacy Exhibition at Cape Town City Hall, where Mandela made his first speech after his release from prison; and Tangible Africa’s headquarters in Gqeberha (Nelson Mandela Bay Metro).
Each site’s organisers will challenge participants to bring along non-perishable food, which will be distributed to beneficiary organisations of their choice.
After the Mandela Day coding tournament, the Leva Foundation will work with teachers from competing schools to identify talented learners who will join the Tangible Academy to prepare them for university.
Overall winners will be determined through a virtual round involving the winning teams from all participating #Coding4Mandela sites. The winning categories will include senior primary and high school learners.