With coding fast becoming an in-demand skill in the agricultural industry, more than 100 Free State learners spent their 67 minutes for Mandela Day learning basic computer programming principles.
Using TANKS, a locally developed mobile app aimed at sparking an interest in programming, learners from three different high schools in Kroonstad discovered the magic of coding at the fourth leg of the VKB Food For Mzansi Agri Career Roadshow.
The roadshow, supported by nine exhibitors, introduces learners to the diversity of study and career options available in the agricultural field, including jobs in farming, science, journalism and economics. In attendance were learners from Kroonstad High School and Phephetso High School, both in Kroonstad, as well as Ngwathe Secondary School in Edenville.
As part of the worldwide Mandela Day Celebrations, roadshow organisers invited the TANKS team developed by the Nelson Mandela University’s Department of Computing Sciences to the career day held on the farm of Kroonstad High School.
The app was designed for learners aged 10 to 14, and features a tank moving through a maze, following the directions provided in the form of physical tokens that form a puzzle and direct the tank when they are photographed.
Since its inception in November 2017, several schools have shown an interest in implementing TANKS in their curriculum and after-school programmes.
Besides being introduced to study opportunities at the University of the Free State as well as opportunities at VKB, Bayer, QPRO, NuPro, the Sernick Group, MSD and Food For Mzansi, learners had a beginners’ class in coding by Manchala Sithole, a master’s student at the North West University, and his team. Many were quite surprised that coding is a sought-after skill in agriculture, says Sithole who was announced as one of News24’s 100 Young Mandelas.
“Learners can optimize their systems and most importantly market the (agricultural and other) products they will produce through coding. Our TANKS teams reached hundreds of learners throughout the country to celebrate Mandela Day by teaching learners how to code.”
According to E.P. Nel from the Free State Education Department agriculture is changing at a rapid pace. “We do not have enough soil for all farmers that want to participate in farming so we need to use available resources more specifically and more intensely. We need to make sure that what we allocate on each hectare of land is specific for specific production and therefore computer coding is very important. If one looks at the revolution of precision farming and how that has influenced agriculture, then it is important that we do it in other enterprises too.”
The Kroonstad career day was the last of the scheduled events in the Free State. However, the VKB Food For Mzansi Agri Career Roadshow moves to the Eastern Cape next week where it will partner with the Eastern Cape Education Department to reach 5 000 learners in three days. Further agricultural career days are also scheduled for high schools in the Western Cape and Limpopo.
Tuesday, 23 July 2019
10h00 – 11h00 Cookhouse Secondary School, Cookhouse
12h00 – 14h00 Aeroville Secondary School, Somerset East
15h00 – 17h00 Somerset East Youth Center, Somerset East
Wednesday, 24 July 2019
09h00 – 10h00 Pearston Secondary School, Pearston
11h00 – 13h00 Spandau Secondary School, Graaff-Reinet
14h00 – 15h00 Umasizakhe Hall, Graaff-Reinet
16h00 – 18h00 Union High School Hall, Graaff-Reinet
Thursday, 25 July 2019
10h00 – 11h00 Jansenville Secondary School, Jansenville
12h30 – 14h00 Carel du Toit Secondary School, Steytlerville
15h30 – 17h30 Willowmore Secondary School, Willowmore
Monday, 29 July 2019, Bernadino Heights High School, Kraaifontein
Tuesday, 30 July 2019, Hoër Landbouskool Paarl, Paarl
Wednesday, 31 July 2019, Bastiaanse Secondary School, Beaufort West
Tuesday, 6 Augustus 2019, Settlers High School, Settlers
Wednesday, 7 August 2019, Merensky High School, Tzaneen
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