Draft curriculum including coding and robotics to be gazetted: Ramaphosa

25 February 2021 - 11:06
President Ramaphosa says it will not be possible to build an e-skilled economy as envisaged in the National Development Plan if SA does not pay attention to subject areas at basic education level.
President Ramaphosa says it will not be possible to build an e-skilled economy as envisaged in the National Development Plan if SA does not pay attention to subject areas at basic education level.
Image: 123RF/Sarah Holmlund

President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday announced that the department of basic education was making headway on the national rollout of coding and robotics.

These are subjects that will assist pupils to align their skills with the knowledge of the rapidly changing world.

“The draft coding and robotics curriculum has been submitted to Umalusi for evaluation and quality assurance, and a draft curriculum will soon be gazetted,” said Ramaphosa, who was speaking at an education sector lekgotla.

Ramaphosa 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, he said, the focus on these new areas should not come at the expense of basic skills such as reading for comprehension.

He said the country needed 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,” said Ramaphosa.

The president congratulated the class of 2020 for an overall pass rate of 76.2%  in the national senior certificate examinations, saying it was an outstanding achievement considering the huge disruption caused to the academic year by the coronavirus pandemic.

He also expressed his gratitude to minister Angie Motshekga and her team and all the stakeholders and partners in the education fraternity. “Thanks to their resilience, tenacity and persistence, we were able to salvage the academic year. Our educators, like our health professionals, gave of their best this past year. They displayed the utmost professionalism in going to teach despite the risks.”

He said SA was deeply saddened by the teachers lost to Covid-19. “We pay tribute to them and, once again, extend the sympathies of the entire nation to their families and colleagues. As we reflect on the past year, with all its hardship and difficulty, our greatest congratulations go to our matriculants.”

To those who did not make it, Ramaphosa encouraged them to try again. “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.”

Not only must we adapt to new ways of learning, but our curricula has to respond to the changes in the world of work.
President Cyril Ramaphosa

Ramaphosa said: “This year’s lekgotla is about equipping learners with knowledge and skills for a changing world. Not only must we adapt to new ways of learning, but our 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, the system must ensure that young people are 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 the necessary resources to help pupils were mobilised, said Ramaphosa.

One of the key focus areas of the economic reconstruction and recovery plan is boosting education and skills development.

“Our 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 pupils in subjects for which there is less demand in the economy.

“This challenge begins in the early years — first, with subject choices that limit future opportunities for learners, and, second, with the poor performance of learners in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics [STEM] fields,” said Ramaphosa.

He said equipping pupils with the knowledge and skills for a changing world necessitates a relook at these 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 said studies showed that the country was lagging 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. Even as the pandemic delayed the process last year, the department of basic education is making headway on the national rollout of coding and robotics.”

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