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May 2021 2nd edition

Upskilling learners for 4IR

Sphelele Ngubane

Children are  set to get to grips with coding while still at school to prepare them for 4IR work opportunities.

The Department of Basic Education is piloting a coding and robotics curriculum in 1 200 schools across the country, before introducing it to all public schools.

The department’s Director of Quality Learning and Teaching, Thabang Hlakula, says the coding and robotics team has embarked on an awareness and advocacy roadshow across all nine provinces to assess the state of readiness for implementation.

“Approximately 200 schools will be piloting the draft curriculum from grades R to 3 and approximately 1 000 schools will be piloting the Grade 7 curriculum during 2021,” says Hlakula.

The curriculum is in response to the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), which has radically changed the way of living, learning and working.

Learners will be taught how to think critically, solve problems, work collaboratively and creatively and function in a digital and information-driven world.

“Schools must teach skills that will support the growth of the economy, enable financial inclusion and relook at critical subject areas, such as science, technology, engineering, mathematics and the curriculum in general,” says Hlakula.

At a recent virtual basic education sector lekgotla, President Cyril Ramaphosa said if South Africa wants to meet its developmental goals, it needs to provide young people with quality education that prepares them for present challenges and future opportunities.

“If we are to seize the opportunities of the 4IR, our education system must be reoriented towards its development in our country.

“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,” he said.

Hlakula says various schools will be provided with an opportunity to participate. This will include mainstream, special, full-service and multi-grade rural schools.

The programme will begin incrementally with grades R, 3 and 7 being introduced in 2021, grades 4, 6 and 8 in 2022 and Grade 9 in 2023.

The department has already completed the pilot programme in KwaZulu-Natal and will now move to other provinces.