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Change the world

18/03/2024

Mandela University and Tangible Africa’s landmark international educational research project was recently launched in Ireland for all primary schools in the Republic of Ireland to receive a free offline digital technology kit.
 

 

Learners Rose Brockie, Riley Rice, Beau Graham and Jamila Ahmed from Stanhope Street Primary School in Dublin play Rangers, a South African-designed offline coding game with TU Dublin Computing Lecturer Karen Nolan.

The kit will consist of the South Africa-developed offline coding game, Rangers, and a BBC micro:bit, the pocket-size computer that allows students to get hands-on with coding.

The founder of Tangible Africa, a Mandela University engagement project, Computing Sciences Head of Department Professor Jean Greyling, is excited by the value the Irish educationists have seen in the South-African developed unplugged coding tool:

“Our unplugged coding games are mentioned in the same breath as Micro:bit, and seen as making a difference in a country such as Ireland. That confirms our philosophy that coding without computers has a pivotal role to play – not only in introducing coding in South African and African schools, but schools across the world.”

Leva Foundation CEO, Ryan le Roux, said the Tangible Africa story has become an amazing journey of a “South African innovation developed to close the digital divide in Africa, now being used in first-world education systems.”

Enabling Digital Technology in Primary School (EDTips) will provide thousands of Irish primary schools with these free digital technology teaching resources and equipment to prepare for the introduction of the Digital Technology Irish Primary Curriculum Framework during the 2025/2026 academic year.

Rangers is a tangible, offline coding game which was developed in 2018 in South Africa. The game, that introduces learners to intermediate Computational Thinking skills without the use of computers, is distributed worldwide through the non-profit educational training awareness project Tangible Africa.

The Irish Minister for Education, Norma Foley, commented that “EDTips will not only equip primary school teachers to deliver digital technology education, but also has the transformative ability to spark the imaginations of young minds”.

EDTips Principal Investigator Dr Keith Nolan said: "If I had access to this, even in second level [high school] at the time, my skill set would have been a lot greater going into university. Having this in primary school now, it's kind of changed the face of Computer Science in Ireland."

Dr Nolan also highlights the expected impact these tools would have on teacher confidence as Ireland moves towards the new Digital Technology curriculum framework.

Tangible Africa Engagement Manager, Jackson Tshabalala, confirms that the training of over 30 000 teachers in South Africa, has shown consistently that teachers leave the training empowered and confident to start coding at their schools: “Many teachers continue to roll out coding at their schools, years after receiving the unplugged training”.

The project, led by Computer Science Inclusive (CSinc) at Technological University Dublin (TU Dublin), is funded by the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Discover Programme and is supported by the university's industry partners, AWS In Communities and Workday.

AWS Country Lead for Ireland, Neil Morris, said: “At AWS Ireland, we are determined to play our part in fostering the next generation of Irish technology leaders.”

Contact information
Ms Elma de Koker
Internal Communication Practitioner
Tel: 041-504 2160
elma.dekoker@mandela.ac.za