The University of Johannesburg (UJ) received a R110 million donation towards the advancement of the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) in underprivileged communities.
According to the university, the generous donation was made by Growing Up Africa (GUA), a non-profit organisation that drives research-based development and design to build and equip resilient education structures for needy communities.
Deborah Terhune, the founder and Chief Executive of GUA, who conceived the project said the donation is already bearing fruit, with the development of an Education Campus Project in Devland, Soweto.
Terhune said the donation will help the campus become a world class facility designed to support education and community development with a focus on 4IR learning that responds to a competitive and ever-evolving global environment.
According to UJ, the planned use of the campus includes the establishment of a centre to advance science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics for the benefit of the youth and the community, and ultimately, for ecological, social, and economic sustainability.
UJ vice-Chancellor and Principal Professor Tshilidzi Marwala said the project is deeply rooted in the university’s strategic mission to address the country’s economic inequalities and to bridge the gap in digital technologies, as underpinned by its agility in the 4IR space.
“This project resonates with UJ’s mission to inspire and serve humanity through innovation and the collaborative pursuit of knowledge.
“As a University, we appeal to other companies to contribute towards similar projects aimed at nurturing community ‘netpreneurship’ (cyber-based entrepreneurship) by offering programmes aligned to the fourth industrial revolution,” said Marwala.
Marwala said UJ has collaborated with Accenture to train 130 students this year, and this number is expected to grow to 300 by 2024.
Upon completion of the relevant course with UJ and the Advanced Youth Centre, the graduates will have the opportunity for placement within Accenture’s partners or client networks, he said.
Adding that the campus will become a model for investment projects with a positive impact on previously disadvantaged communities.
The campus will also support related fields, such as adult education.
Marwala said the Devland Soweto Education Campus has a state-of-the-art building that consists of a series of multipurpose teaching spaces, including classrooms and a lecture hall. Other facilities include an open-plan work areas, a canteen, ablutions as well as storerooms and administrative offices anchored by an impressive auditorium.
Terhune said she initiated the project because of her passion to address unemployment, especially through digital skills.
“This is a viable way to contribute towards 4IR in South Africa and on the African continent.” she said.
She said she chose UJ because the University’s 4IR strategic objective resonated with her mission and vision.
She added that about 225 companies, suppliers, service providers, consultants, contractors and professionals donated in-kind, materials and services – “proving that CASH is just one of many resources that can be used purposefully to satisfy human needs,”” said Terhune.
Adding that stakeholders who support and promote STEM are welcome to participate in the project.