ONE of the key focus areas of the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan is boosting education and skills development, says president Cyril Ramaphosa.
Speaking at the launch of the Basic Education Sector Lekgotla on Thursday (25 February), the president said that the country’s 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,” he said. “The higher education sector recently raised concerns about the large numbers of learners in subjects for which there is less demand in the economy.
“This challenge begins in the early years – firstly, with subject choices that limit future opportunities for learners, and, secondly, with the poor performance of learners in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields.”
Ramaphosa said that equipping learners with the knowledge and skills for a changing world necessitates a review of critical subject areas and the curriculum in general.
“As we review the matric results, one of the prominent indicators of quality is how the country is doing in these 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.”
He added that 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.”
Coding and robotics
Despite delays caused by the pandemic, Ramaphosa said that the Department of Basic Education is 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,” 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, Ramaphosa said that 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. Knowledge and skills for a changing world also include emotional stability, intelligence and an environment where learners are safe from abuse,” Ramaphos said that.
He added that social compacts should put learners and their education first.
“The past year has been extremely difficult, but the people of this country have shown great resilience and resolve.
“The year ahead will also be challenging, but we now have a clear path to recovery. And with our focus on developing the skills that children need for a changing world, we also have a clear path towards a better future.”
(SOURCE: BUSINESSTECH SA)