For Sustainability, South African Youth Get Innovative

Photo: GE Africa
A group of learners from Johannesburg participated in a Junior Achievement South Africa workshop recently. Image credit: Junior Achievement South Africa
11 August 2016
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GE Africa (Lagos)

Sustainability may have started out as a nice-to-have, but it’s increasingly recognised as an imperative for both business and consumers. And for the next generation of leaders,  sustainability will be even more important than it is now.

Recently, GE and Junior  Achievement South Africa hosted a one-day workshop which asked 80 high school students, from communities around Johannesburg, to design a solution that would help young people to lead more sustainable lives.

The camp focused on Science, Technology, Energy and Mathematics (STEM) innovation, a GE priority. “There is a need for these kind of camps and programmes, especially with a focus on STEM. As GE, we feel learners who participate in these programmes will be able to come up with solutions to a lot of the problems in  Africa,” said GE CSR specialist Celiwe Zondo.

Responses included a solar powered train, a pocket library, and an app that sets study notes to a rhyming beat to aid recall. Most solutions were focused on improving learning and access to information, addressing different learning styles and access to  textbooks. It was clear that these were daily struggles for many.

One of the groups suggested school shoes that stretched to accommodate growing feet, highlighting the cost of school uniforms and affordability.

Xolani Timba, 16, from Eqinisweni High School learnt a lot from the camp. “I learnt that team work can be a success. I also discovered the importance of patience and communication,” he said. His brother encouraged him to take part in the Junior Achievement  programme. “My brother told me that the programme would teach me how to  survive in business.”

Reshy Baloyi, 16, also from  Eqinisweni High School, said that the camp taught her to have determination, focus, and innovate. “I was scared to interact with others and work in groups but got over it and started to enjoy it. I also learnt about time management,” she  said.

“I’ve enjoyed interacting with the students on technology and science. This gives me hope that we will see an increase in STEM entrepreneurs in the future,” said Ethne Makgasane, Transformation  Manager at GE South Africa.

Junior Achievement Worldwide is dedicated to addressing social and economic challenges by educating and empowering young people. In South Africa, with support from local corporates, they’ve assisted young people in both urban and rural areas to learn practical  business and entrepreneurial skills.

 This article first appeared on GE Reports sub-Saharan Africa

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