Learners from various Gauteng schools attending robotic and environmental sustainability event at Richmond Campus in Newtown

By Madali Chibambu

  • Over 100 young learners from Gauteng participated in a Youth Month programme at Richfield Campus, focusing on robotics and environmental sustainability.
  • The programme was a collaborative effort involving the University of Johannesburg, Empire Partner Foundation, Sifiso Edtech, Google, and other partners, aiming to equip youth with skills and knowledge for the future.
  • Speakers and demonstrations highlighted the significance of technology in socio-economic development, inspiring attendees to embrace innovation and pursue their passions.

More than one hundred young learners from across Gauteng gathered at Richfield Campus in Newtown to explore the exciting fields of robotics and environmental sustainability. This programme, part of Youth Month celebrations under the theme “Actively Embracing the Socio-Economic Gains of Our Democracy,” was a collaborative effort involving the University of Johannesburg, Empire Partner Foundation, Sifiso Edtech, Google, Richfield Campus, and other dedicated partners.

The programme provided a platform for youth to delve into robotics and sustainability, engaging them in meaningful discussions and activities that highlighted their critical role in South Africa’s socio-economic landscape. The learners, hailing from diverse backgrounds, were given the opportunity to enhance their skills and envision a future where they can contribute significantly to their communities.

Gauteng Department of Social Development (GDSD) Chief Financial Officer, Mr Johan Strauss, addressed the youth, emphasising that robotics technology is designed to assist and enhance their work, not replace it. “We appreciate all the partners who have come together to support our youth. Remember, robotics and technology are tools that come from our environment,” Strauss remarked, inspiring the young audience.

Professor Mpho Primus from the University of Johannesburg, an expert in robotics and Artificial Intelligence, shared her personal journey. “My family wanted me to study medicine, but I knew that technology was the future. It’s amazing to see the youth today embracing these innovations,” she said. Her story resonated with many young attendees, encouraging them to pursue their passions despite societal expectations.

Simbarashe Mhlanga of Empire Partner Foundation spoke about the practical benefits of artificial intelligence for young people, noting that their foundation already employs interns in AI roles. “Artificial intelligence will empower you to do your work more efficiently,” Mhlanga stated, offering a glimpse into the potential career paths available.

Google Africa representative Sipho Mthombeni highlighted the transformative power of AI and technology, particularly in a continent where over sixty million people are active on social media. “AI is part of our daily business and can assist you in many ways,” he explained, underscoring the relevance of digital skills in today’s world.

Bongani Baloyi from Gigabytes Productions captivated the audience with a demonstration of drone technology, showing young people how to operate drones and emphasising their potential to simplify modern life. Nombuso Mokoena from Thokoza in Ekurhuleni, one of the programme participants, expressed her excitement: “It was my first time seeing a drone in person. Experiencing robotics and drones with my friends has been incredible. The organisers have truly created something special for us,” she said, reflecting the enthusiasm and hope the programme inspired.

This programme not only celebrated the achievements of young people but also equipped them with knowledge and skills to navigate and shape their future, reaffirming the belief that the youth are pivotal to the socio-economic development of South Africa.

Picture taken by: Matlaba Machete

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