Computer lab at school set to become future hub of coding

2020-03-31 06:00
Learners at Heideveld Primary in front of the Carol Thomas computer lab at the school.

Learners at Heideveld Primary in front of the Carol Thomas computer lab at the school.

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When Abigail Medell began as a computer teacher at Heideveld Primary School four years ago, there were only 13 computers in the computer lab. But, thanks to the Sakhikamva Foundation and the Good Deeds Charity Organisation, the lab has been transformed into the future hub of coding in Athlone and surrounding areas.

Medell teaches computer basics to 25 to 30 learners daily. She says it is quite an experience for her to work with the learners.

“I start off with the Grade Rs and it is amazing to see how they grow in computer literacy as they progress from one grade to the other.

“My joy in teaching computer skills comes from the difference I make in a learner’s life.

“The learners are so excited about everything and it is a new experience for both of us. My classes are only 30 minutes long and I teach the curriculum that is required for computers in each grade,” Medell says.

When the schools reopen, she is going to focus on coding in the lab.

“Coding is the programming of science and robotics where you put in actions in the computer to make something happen. Heideveld Primary is going to be the hub of coding in the near future and I am looking forward to be part of this,” Medell says.

The workshops for the coding was initiated by Fatima Jakoet, the founder of the Sakhikamva Foundation and a pilot for South African Airways (SAA). Workshops for coding were held on Saturday 14 March.

The new computer lab (named after Carol Thomas, a leading gynecological surgeon of the 70s) was upgraded in June last year, thanks to the generosity of the Good Deeds Charity Organisation.

The organisation was started in 2018 when the idea was first raised during a 25-year reunion of the University of Cape Town (UCT) medical students.

Dr Azgher Karjieker, who represents the donors of the organisation, donated 25 mini PCs, an overhead projector and a fully functional interactive white board to the school.

Medell explains that the organisation unites friends, colleagues and other like-minded individuals who wish to empower underprivileged learners by giving them access to tools they had and that the kids would enjoy.

Up until five years ago, learners at Heideveld Primary School had to attend classes in an old prefabricated building. Work on the new, state-of-the-art building was completed in 2015.

“At the old school, the lab consisted of 13 computers and when the current school was built, these computers were in storage. Kensington High School donated 35 computers and this was a boost for the school.

“The provincial education department donated another 20 computers but because the computers had different software, it was not compatible with the curriculum and it was difficult to teach the learners.”

Today the lab has 40 workstations. The computers donated by the education department has since been upgraded to include the same software as those donated by Dr Karjiker.

Of the 25 computers handed over by the organisation, 20 are being used while five have been placed in storage.

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