The first eSports scholarship on the African continent has been launched by Centennial Schools in Johannesburg.
Three scholarships to the total value of R750 000 are being offered to South African student gamers from Grade 6 to Grade 9 .
This school says the bursary programme ties into the school’s ethos of re-imagining today’s schools for the 21st century, and has the potential to substantially set up eSport students’ futures.
“eSports have become more inclusive than other sports, with boys and girls able to play on the same teams and participants coming from various social groups and demographics,” says Shaun Fuchs, founder and CEO of Centennial Schools. “We have built the largest eSports arena of its kind in Africa, which offers individual gaming stations, spectator stands and a lounge area.
“eSports is incorporated into our overall approach to education as it teaches students valuable skills beyond the classroom.”
Fuchs says that eSports is on the rise, not only internationally, but locally as well. The global industry is currently worth $268-billion, and data indicates that there are 3-billion active gamers .
“Pew Research found that 90% of teenagers play video games. For boys between the ages of 13-17, that rises to 97%. But it’s not only about the games. Players who participate in eSports programmes are found to have a higher interest in STEM (Science, Tech, Engineering, Math) subjects.
“Research shows that children who play video games have a far better chance of navigating through complex psychological issues compared to those that do not actively participate in video games.”
He says playing video games can make students keener and more employable across a wider spectrum of careers, including the medical field, engineering, remote flying, and computer sciences.
“eSports can boost children’s strategic thinking, teamwork, communication, leadership and performance. It has also been shown to boost confidence building skills.”
In the USA, more than 170 colleges have eSports programmes and are offering around $16-million per year in scholarships. College eSports tournament organiser Tespa says its competitions attract more than 1,350 schools and more than 40,000 players.
The scholarship will take the form of a gaming competition.