FIRST Global works with organisations that support the advancement of technology and innovation in their local communities. Aretha Mare, one of the co-founders at Impact Hub Harare is a pioneer of STEM education and she brought the programme to Zimbabwe in order to bridge the technological gap that exists between African countries and the rest of the world. African students are not as exposed to changes within the technological environment and for that reason; Impact Hub Harare, through the Zimbabwe Robotics Team, seeks to empower Zimbabwean students from all walks of life with the essential skills to foster innovation. Tadzoka Pswarayi, the team manager for the Robotics team this year explained, “The programme goes beyond the five children who participated at the global competition and aims to take high-tech education such as Robotics across Zimbabwe in order to leapfrog more developed countries and use STEM to develop our nation.” Furthermore, because the number of female students active in programming initiatives is low, Impact Hub Harare encourages girls to participate in the challenge. Impact Hub Harare provides training, mentorship and other resources essential for success at both the local and international stage. The training that students go through contributes towards shaping tomorrow’s scientists, engineers and innovators to be practical problem solvers. Zimbabwe has the potential to build the skills set required for a digital economy and can thus lure digital companies to invest in the country. Echoing FIRST Global founder Dean Kamen’s re-iteration of Franklin Roosevelt, Charles Matanga remarked, “we should not build the future for our youth, but instead build the youth for the future” and this is why Zimbabwe should focus on being part of the fourth industrial revolution.
The goal of the program is to enable students to:
- Design a prototype that can respond to software instructions
- Write program codes that can be deployed to robot control hubs
- Design innovative tools that can be used in schools, hospitals and local communities
- Create a firm foundation on which a national robotics program can be launched using tangible results
- Commit to train others and start robotics clubs in their schools and communities so that the effort grows organically and at a limited cost