South Africa To Introduce New Tech Subjects At Schools

The coding curriculum will develop learners’ ability to solve problems, think critically, and work collaboratively and creatively; function in a digital and information-driven world; apply digital and ICT skills; and to transfer these skills to solve everyday problems. 

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Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga.
angie-motshekga Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga. Credit: Bloemfontein Courant

In a move aimed at preparing the country for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), South Africa is developing a coding as well as robotics curricula to be included from Grade R-9.

“The curricula will provide learners with an understanding of coding and robotics and will develop their skills and competencies to prepare them for the 4IR,” said Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga.

“The curricula will ensure that our schooling system produces learners with the foundations for future work, and equip them with skills for the changing world.”

Coding

Motshekga said the coding curriculum will develop learners’ ability to solve problems, think critically, and work collaboratively and creatively; function in a digital and information-driven world; apply digital and ICT skills; and to transfer these skills to solve everyday problems.

Learners will also become a new generation of creative, innovative thinkers that can use coding to express their ideas; and adopt a culture of being self-directed, life-long learners, she added.

“We are grateful to the University of South Africa (UNISA) that has generously agreed to partner with the DBE by making available their 24 ICT Laboratories throughout the country for the training of 72 000 teachers in Coding,” said the minister.

“The DBE is also working with civil society, academic institutions and businesses, such as Africa Teen Geeks. With the support of Africa Teen Geeks, UNISA, North West University, ORT South Africa and Globenet, the DBE developed a Framework for Coding Grade R-9.”

Google, Teen Geeks and other Big Businesses through Africa, are supporting the DBE to develop a coding platform that utilises Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to customise teaching and learning, she added.

“This Coding platform will need to be available in all 11 languages, ensuring that rural and township children will be introduced to coding and robotics in their own mother tongue, in line with this government’s mission to provide an inclusive education accessible to all.”

Team “Dynamite” build a street sweeping robot that has sensors so that it can operate like a self-driving car.
Team “Dynamite” build a street sweeping robot that has sensors so that it can operate like a self-driving car.

Robotics

The DBE will also be introducing a Robotics curriculum from Grade R-9.

“This robotics curriculum will have a strong foundation in Engineering in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), and it will enable learners to build and operate robots through programming code,” said Motshekga.

“This robotics curriculum will not require any infrastructure or devices, but will need maker spaces to provide hands-on, creative ways to encourage students to design, experiment, build and invent; e.g., through cardboard construction activities.”

The department expects the projects will become more challenging as the grades progress.

In Grade 9, the learners will be taught how to build a computer from scratch.

“This will not only develop STEM skills, but also contribute to effectively developing children’s creativity, critical thinking, design thinking, and digital skills,” said Motshekga.

“This will ensure that South Africa develops learners who are makers and inventors who will contribute to building an innovative culture in South Africa.”

Teachers are going to be key in teaching this new subject, and the plan is to train at least three teachers in each of the 16 000 primary schools to teach Coding, said DBE.

The implementation of Coding in the system will start with a pilot in 1000 schools in 2020 in five provinces for Grade 7 to 9.

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