PPC heeds minister's call to invest in STEM education

One of the mobile science and IT labs being unveiled by PPC.

One of the mobile science and IT labs being unveiled by PPC.

Cement and related products supplier PPC recently embarked on an initiative to supply mobile science and IT labs to underprivileged schools throughout the country.

Since July 2016, the company, in collaboration with the project partner, Diebold Nixdorf, has been handing over mobile science and IT labs. To date, the partnership has resulted in over 14 mobile science and IT labs being handed over to various schools.

"The Mobile Science and IT Lab initiative was developed by PPC in direct response to supporting talented budding scientists, providing them with the tools to develop their skills," says Kabira Akoob, CSI manager at PPC.

"Through our understanding of the challenges that both educators and learners face with science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) related subjects, we were encouraged to continue playing our part in giving them a space to excel in this field. Over 10 000 learners countrywide have already benefited, opening up their career paths to becoming South Africa's next generation of engineers, scientists and technicians."

The lab is a self-sufficient portable structure on wheels which incorporates both technology (computers) and science equipment needed to conduct experiments covered in the high school science and technology syllabuses.

Most recently, the company donated the mobile labs to Molly Blackburn High School in KwaNobuhle, Eastern Cape; Jabulani Technical High School in Soweto, Gauteng; and Hammanskraal Secondary School outside Pretoria, Gauteng.

Speaking on the importance of this initiative, Jean Christophe Bouche, Diebold Nixdorf's managing director for East and Southern Africa, explained the company was committed to contributing to youth development in the region.

"Education is a powerful tool for youth development and pivotal to transforming the economy. For education to create tangible future opportunities for our children, incorporates need to collaborate with government and communities to help learners to develop the skills they need to achieve their dreams."

Department of Science and Technology minister Naledi Pandor has been vocal about the importance of STEM education and the potential of pursuing careers in the science and technology sector. In the 2016/2017 financial year, the Gauteng Department of Education  invested R21.2 million in maths, science and technology resources, and R65.1 million for learner achievements in support of the strategy, which is aimed at further improving the quality of teaching and learner performance in both primary and secondary schools in the province.

PPC also partnered with government, through a memorandum of understanding with the Department of Basic Education, that the company monitors outputs of each and every lab. The initiative has also partnered with various other organisations including Caster Semenya's PrincessD Menstrual Cup foundation, Smartlabs, Brainwave and Hip Hope Foundation.

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