INTEL and teachers’ union the National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa (Naptosa) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU), to meet the rising demand for digital skills for the country’s educators.
Signed in Johannesburg yesterday, the MOU sees the entities take the first steps towards kick-starting the Intel Skills for Innovation Programme (SFI) in SA, which aims to support inclusion of tech in education systems.
According to Intel, the SFI programme aims to equip teachers with the skills they need to expose their learners to emerging technologies from early in their education.
Furthermore, the company says exposure to new technology-based learning will aid in preparing learners for more complicated technology skills and lay the groundwork for a new generation of innovators capable of competing in a digital economy.
Launched last year, the SFI programme has already been implemented in over 30 countries, with over 10 000 teachers engaged with the programme’s content, according to Maurits Tichelman, Intel VP of sales and marketing and GM for EMEA territories.
He explained the intention is to help Naptosa-affiliated teachers infuse technology into everyday learning and teaching, to ensure today’s learners are equipped with skills for a technology-driven workforce of the future.
“The future demands a new set of skills. For hundreds of years, educators have been using books, papers and pencils,” he stated.
“New technology resources need to be just as reliable and just as easy to use, and be able provide a richer experience. A richer experience will allow our children to be much more creative, learn easily and have the visualisation and interaction available to them.
“This initiative will help current teachers to upscale and have the capabilities to tap into innovation and new technologies.”
Tichelman indicated Intel intends to scale the SFI programme even further in the upcoming years.
The South African education old guard has, over the years, tried to ramp-up ICT and e-education adoption.
The Department of Basic Education and provincial education departments have attempted to do this by supplying electronic devices to learners and teachers, including access to e-learning programmes, to digitally upskill and prepare the future workforce.
This process, however, was snowballed by the advent of COVID-19 in 2020, as teachers and learners had to resort to remote learning to keep up with the academic year.
Industry commentators have also been vocal that decision-making stakeholders in the education system should, at the very least, consider blended models of teaching and learning, in the wake of the pandemic.
Basic education minister Angie Motshekga previously stated the Commission on ICT, digitisation, e-education management, distance learning and online schools found the COVID-19 pandemic has dictated a review on how the basic education sector conducts business.
At the MOU signing, a Naptosa official expressed that a lot of the teachers struggled with the move to online education, as a result of the pandemic.
Through the programme, the teachers’ union also wants to improve teacher-confidence in terms of engaging with technology, said the official.
“Naptosa opted for the Intel programme because it aims to equip teachers with basic-to-advanced digital skills. It’s a four-level programme, with level one providing the basic computer literacy skills, going up all the way to level four.
“The rollout plan has been for us to train master trainers in all of the nine provinces, which is the first step that we have done. The first stage has been completed.
“We’ve identified Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, Free State, Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng provinces where the programme will be rolled out.
“Going forward, we want to take it to other provinces, and our master trainers are excited about implementing the training and showing teachers how to bring technology within the classroom and making it a part of everyday learning,” the official concluded.