Thursday, 25 February 2021

Johannesburg: President Cyril Ramaphosa says the Department of Basic Education is making headway in the national roll out of the new Coding and Robotics Curriculum for schools.

“The draft coding and robotics curriculum has been submitted to Umalusi for evaluation and quality assurance, and a draft curriculum will soon be gazetted. 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,” President Ramaphosa said.

President Ramaphosa was speaking at the 2021 Virtual Basic Education Lekgotla on Thursday.

Held under the theme “Equipping Learners with Knowledge and Skills for a Changing World”, the annual event aims to address key challenges facing the education sector and to plan for the year, in line with the National Development Plan (NDP), Medium Term Strategic Framework of government and the State of the Nation Address.

The three-day engagement will place emphasis on the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), and the need to ensure that learners have the best possible chance at succeeding in a fast-changing global environment.

In his address, President Ramaphosa emphasised that not only must the country adapt to new ways of learning but the education curricula has to respond to the changes in the world of work.

In addition to having the right content, technologies and a safe learning environment, young people should be grounded in an ethos of learning and industry.

“The Coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the digital divide in society, particularly with regards to the adoption of technologies for learning and teaching. It underscores the need to intensify efforts 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. One of the key focus areas of the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan is boosting education and skills development,” President Ramaphosa said.

Commenting on concerns raised by the higher education sector recently regarding the large numbers of learners in subjects that has less demand in the economy, the President said the challenge begins in the early years with subject choices that limit future opportunities for learners, and the poor performance of learners in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.

“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 (4IR), our education system must be reoriented towards its development in our country.”

President Ramaphosa said 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,” President Ramaphosa said.

Invest in early childhood development

Meanwhile, the President reiterated the need to continue investing 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. We need to build stronger social compacts that 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,” the President said.

Second Chance Programme

While congratulating the Class of 2020 for the overall pass rate of 76.2% in the National Senior Certificate examinations, the President encouraged those who did not make it to take advantage of the opportunities provided through the Second Chance Programme.

“Do not see this as a failure, but as a setback from which you can learn, and from which you can recover.” he said.