Air Traffic and Navigation Services (ATNS) SOC Limited was proud to hand over the 17th ICT infrastructure and science centre it has sponsored in rural high schools across the country over the past two years, to Balondo Secondary School in eMpangeni near Richards Bay, KwaZulu-Natal on Saturday, 27 April 2019. The sponsorship includes a science laboratory and apparatus, an ICT laboratory and equipment, as well as general infrastructural renovations.
The hand over was conducted by Deputy Minister of Transport, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga at the school, which has three-hundred and nineteen (319) learners, seventy-two (72) of those being in Grade 12.
Thomas Kgokolo, ATNS Interim CEO, says, “We know that education plays a key role in addressing socio-economic development challenges in our country. Our commitment to aviation transformation programmes has driven our investment in the promotion of maths and physical and life sciences in schools that would otherwise have no or limited access to facilities to enhance opportunities for learning.” The ICT and science centres are also increasing the pool of mathematics and science learners with the potential to train as air traffic controllers. Kgokolo says ATNS’s social transformation strategy is in line with South Africa’s Framework for Skills for a Changing World, which includes a focus on training learners to be proficient in emerging technologies such as the internet of things, robotics and artificial intelligence. “We have high hopes for the learners and educators at Balondo High School with this new contribution to their school’s facilities. We trust they will embrace the opportunities that are presented to them and strive for successful futures in an ever-changing and advancing technological world,” adds Kgokolo.
Preparing our youth for the Fourth Industrial Revolution is a priority in today’s world, and particularly in South Africa where unemployment is rife. Earlier this year, at the 2019 Basic Education Sector Lekgotla, President Cyril Ramaphosa appealed to all who could contribute, “Working together, we must strive to ensure that our children excel from an early age, especially in the prioritised areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.” He added, “Globalisation, technological disruption and digitisation are re-shaping the way people live, work, socialise, share knowledge and participate in increasingly complex, dynamic and diverse societies.”
ATNS has long recognised this fundamental need and has embraced a social investment strategy that is a catalyst for change, with a strong focus on education and more specifically on ICT and science in disadvantaged communities.
According to the Rethinking Economics for Africa department at Wits University, latest statistics reveal that youth unemployment rose to 54.7% in the fourth quarter of 2018, up from 52.7% in the previous quarter. Kgokolo says, “The need is greater than ever to equip our young people to take their rightful place as our future leaders, and we at ATNS believe that our ongoing investment in ICT and science centres in underprivileged high schools will make a difference and contribute to successful careers for our young people.”