Pupils get ready for the smart challenge

Victor Mecoamere

Victor Mecoamere

According to educationist, visionary politician and leadership development guru John William Gardner, much of education today is monumentally ineffective.

One youth development campaign that is shying away from spoon-feeding young people is the Smart Young Challenge, featuring nation-building partners Blue IQ, Sowetan and the Gauteng Department of Education.

The campaign seeks to stimulate awareness, interest and application among high school pupils in maths, science, technology and entrepreneurship. It encourages Grades 8, 9 and 10 pupils to think out of the box.

Pupils have to submit smart business ideas and solutions to socio-economic problems, to formulate alternatives to circumstances that have become barriers to the diverse wants and needs in their communities and to generate commercially viable ideas for products or services.

Pupils are required to work independently, in groups of five, handling their own research, analysis and interpretation of the brief and ultimate unravelling of the conundrums before them, with teachers serving as guides.

In the previous challenges, pupils had to help ensure that the disabled are not left out of the 2010 Soccer World Cup loop. They had to devise suitable transport, a highly accessible ticket-booking system and appropriate, comfortable seating at stadiums; and:

l Develop a slang dictionary;

l Highlight Gauteng's reputation as a multicultural, multilingual and politically diverse cosmopolis;

l Formulate innovative alternative power sources;

l And, provide water recycling solutions.

For the future, Smart Young Mindz is helping to ensure that Gauteng has a good supply of appropriately-qualified and skilled workers and leaders in engineering, technology, innovation, business and the teaching of technical subjects at a higher level.

Preparations have started for the 2008 Smart Young Mindz Challenge. Districts are expected to play an active role, overseeing the coordination, adjudication and hosting of regional eliminations.

After coming second in 2007, Racaull High School pupils Rafeah Mangera, Shazia Akhalwaya, Azeezah Saloojee, Mahomed Ozayr Abdulla and Muhammed Kola were the overall winners last year.

Mondeor High School came second. Third place went to Pretoria Girls High. Fundulwazi Secondary School came fourth.