PRESIDENT Cyril Ramaphosa has called on the Department of Basic Education to assist teachers to effectively integrate technology into subject areas, while increasing access to quality education for all South African pupils, regardless of their location, proficiency level and socio-economic circumstances.
Ramaphosa was addressing the three-day 2021Basic Education Lekgotla following the announcement of the matric results on Monday.
In recent months, the president has been vocal about the critical issues facing the country’s young people, noting more needs to be done to ensure South African youth are employable, especially in the context of the fourth industrial revolution (4IR).
He said that as the lekgotla reviewed the matric results, one of the prominent indicators of quality education was how the country was doing in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects.
“If we are to seize the opportunities of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, our education system must be reoriented towards its development in our country,” said Ramaphosa.
“Studies show that the country lags behind in the information technology skills needed for the digital revolution. It will not be possible for us to build an e-skilled economy as envisaged in the National Development Plan if we do not pay attention to subject areas at basic education level. Even as the pandemic delayed the process last year, the Department of Basic Education is making headway on the national rollout of coding and robotics.”
He said that even as the pandemic delayed the process last year, the Department of Basic Education was making headway on the national rollout of coding and robotics.
“The draft coding and robotics curriculum has been submitted to Umalusi for evaluation and quality assurance, and a draft curriculum will soon be gazetted,” said Ramaphosa.
He said during the course of this year, 200 schools will be piloting the draft curriculum from Grades R to 3 and 1,000 schools will be piloting the Grade 7 curriculum.
“However, focus on these new areas should not come at the expense of basic skills such as reading for comprehension. We also have to continue to invest in early childhood development as the foundation for cognitive development, and create policy certainty where it is lacking,” said Ramaphosa.
Ramaphosa also lauded the Class of 2020 for the overall pass rate of 76.2% in the National Senior Certificate (NSC) examinations.
“This is an outstanding achievement considering the huge disruption caused to the academic year by the coronavirus pandemic,” said Ramaphosa.
“We are grateful for the efforts of Minister Angie Motshekga and her team and all the stakeholders and partners in the education fraternity.”
The president said COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the digital divide in society, particularly with regards to the adoption of technologies for learning and teaching.
Ramaphosa was referring to the switch to hybrid teaching and learning models, which exposed the glaring inequalities in education – from basic education all the way through to higher education.
During the pandemic, the lack of access to online learning and digital skills put many young people at risk of falling behind their peers.
This deepened the divide between students on the continent who have access, and those who don’t.
He said the pandemic has underscored the need to intensify efforts by government to ensure connectivity and equitable access to data.
“This calls for stronger public-private partnerships to ensure that we mobilise the necessary resources to help our learners,” said Ramaphosa.
“One of the key focus areas of the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan is boosting education and skills development. Our schools must teach the skills that will both support the growth of the economy and enable financial inclusion. We don’t want an economic recovery that only benefits some people. It must benefit all.”
(SOURCE: INSIDE EDUCATION)