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Groundbreaking stride as teacher union takes coding and robotics to the visually impaired and blind

Robotics and coding provides learners with crucial skill set. Picture: File

Robotics and coding provides learners with crucial skill set. Picture: File

Published Sep 13, 2023


The South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) is making inclusive learning and teaching a reality.

The union, as part of the Teacher Union Collaboration (TUC) programme with other unions in education to complement the Department of Basic Education in training teachers on skills for a changing world, has partnered with Bona Africa to train educators teaching visually impaired and blind learners in coding and robots.

Sadtu said this unplugged coding and robotics training had been extended to the visually impaired and blind following the successful training of almost 16 000 teachers in mainstream schools in 2022.

Sadtu, through its Curtis Nkondo Professional Development Institute and Ubuntu Africa, is training teachers from schools for the visually impaired across all nine provinces in a series of 16 workshops in the month of September with the aim of reaching 600 teachers.

The union said the workshops had already been conducted in special needs schools in the Free State, KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape, and Northern Cape provinces and these were embraced by visually impaired teachers as well.

Apart from reaching out to the teachers who are normally marginalised in professional development initiatives, Sadtu said this training would have a positive impact on the visually impaired as it would open a world of opportunities for them.

Explaining the union’s interest in providing coding and robotics training to teachers from schools for the visually impaired, Sadtu general secretary Mugwena Maluleke said the move aimed to promote the development of an a quality education system which was accessible to all.

“Sadtu and the Institute, through this training, will ensure that these teachers and learners are not left behind in the teaching and learning of the skills for a changing world. We will make every effort, more especially with the strengthened curriculum, to ensure that all learners benefit from innovation,” Maluleke said.

Bona Africa (a collaboration between Tangible Africa and Bona uBuntu) is providing the content for the training.

The union said the teachers were given training and supporting materials that were accessible to the blind. They will use these to implement coding at school level.

For the blind learners, their kit includes tokens that are tactile and available in braille.

Tangible Africa has worked with Sadtu to train teachers in mainstream schools. The organisation has also partnered with other teacher unions in South Africa to train teachers in coding.

Its founder, Professor Jean Greyling, head of the Nelson Mandela University Computing Sciences Department, said the organisation was committed to bridging the digital divide by making coding more inclusive to visually impaired young people.

Sadtu and Bona Africa are holding a workshop to demonstrate this training at the Birchwood Hotel in Ekurhuleni on Thursday.

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