JOHANNESBURG, South Africa – 04 October 2023 – Mbilwi Secondary School from Venda, Limpopo was announced as the winner of the Solve for Tomorrow schools competition at a ceremony at Birchwood Conference Centre in Johannesburg. The competition, which was run in partnership with the State Information Technology Agency (SITA), was aimed at giving grade 10 and 11 learners from underserved communities an opportunity to gain invaluable skills while using Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM), to solve some of the challenges within their communities.
For their efforts, Mbilwi walked away with a prize of R100,000 cash, while in second place, Maphuthaditshaba Secondary from Acornhoek (Mpumalanga) received R50,000 and Umlazi Comprehensive Tech from KwaZulu-Natal got R30,000 for completing the top three places. The cash prizes will go towards STEM equipment for each school, according to their various unique needs. Samsung sweetened the deal by rewarding each of the learners in the top three teams with a Samsung device.
Head of Corporate Affairs at SITA, Tlali Tlali highlighted that the collaboration with Samsung on this programme happened after finding synergies in the area of corporate social responsibility. “This is the type of public-private partnership that, when implemented effectively, can bring about extensive, positive and meaningful change in the country. The youth hold the key to the future and investing in them through such initiatives is a no-brainer. We are proud to partner with a like-minded organisation like Samsung in this effort to empower the youth and help shape the South Africa of tomorrow, while also giving a voice to those who were voiceless before.”
The schools had to identify problems in their communities that they could solve using STEM. With Samsung helping them with resources and mentors guiding them, they had to conduct research and develop prototypes for the challenges they had identified.
The winning prototype, as created by the learners from Mbilwi, is an ambitious plan to fix all the potholes in their town’s roads using recyclable and sustainable materials that include discarded bottles that they collected.
“This project has been a huge part of our lives in the past year so winning it means a lot to us. We have really worked hard as a team as we met every day to put in the work needed to get us not just over the line but victoriously so, therefore winning is awesome. This win will also encourage other learners in our school to participate in such competitions. We are happy that the competition allowed us to do something good for the environment and hopefully, it will spark even more interest in others to work on making the environment better for all,” said Igoline Coelho, team member and grade 11 learner.
“Winning this competition will help us keep our name on the map. We are one of the top schools in the region and have made a habit out of winning, and we are happy to keep it that way. So winning such contests serves to reinforce our status as a great school with a highly competitive edge. We are proud of our learners and their achievement because we don’t enter competitions just to add the numbers; we enter to win. When we compete, regardless of the contest or the opponents, we always want to be number one. We are grateful to Samsung and their partners for creating this platform for our learners to expand their STEM horizons,” said Tshifhiwa Tshidzumba, teacher.
Speaking at the event, Deputy Minister in the Presidency, Pinky Kekana said, “In 2018 – in line with efforts to improve the education system, the Department of Basic Education highlighted the importance to increase the number of schools that focus on critical learning areas such as science, technology, engineering, mathematics, as well as the arts. The skills acquired by the educators and the learners will benefit them beyond this competition. We look forward to seeing the inclusion of more schools from the underserviced communities in South Africa. We are optimistic that some of the solutions from this competition will eventually be implemented, thus putting south Africa on the map; with accompanying job opportunities for the youth.”
Solve for Tomorrow is Samsung’s ambitious effort to increase interest and proficiency in STEM, and also help the country contribute to the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The competition encourages innovative thinking, creative problem-solving, and teamwork among the learners as they grow and learn important skills that could benefit them greatly in their future careers.
“Samsung is invested not only in contributing to the country’s advancement in technology but also its socio-economic growth. As one of the tools for improving the country, the drive for youth employment is something the company is actively involved in and is pushing through various initiatives. As one of them, Solve for Tomorrow does this by helping equip the youth with various technological, artisanal and electronic skills. We are proud to see this group of young people applying their minds to learn and help solve some of their communities’ problems and hope such programmes spark the revolution for positive and sustainable change within communities,” said Hlubi Shivanda, Samsung’s Director for Business Innovation Group and Corporate Affairs.