The Department of Basic Education (DBE) has already trained 43,774 teachers in computer skills and will shortly begin training teachers for the new coding curricula.
Answering in a recent parliamentary Q&A session, minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga said that these teachers will be trained on coding from June to September 2019.
Coding as a subject will be piloted at 1,000 schools across five provinces starting in the 2020 school year.
In March, Motshekga said that the University of South Africa (UNISA) has partnered with the DBE by making available their 24 ICT Laboratories throughout the country for the training of 72,000 teachers in coding.
She added that Google, Teen Geeks and other businesses are also supporting the DBE to develop a coding platform that uses Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to customise teaching and learning.
“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,” Motshekga said.
The minister said that the DBE will also be introducing a robotics curriculum from Grade R-9.
The curriculum will have a strong foundation in engineering and will enable learners to build and operate robots through programming code, she said.
“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,” she said.
“This will not only develop STEM skills, but also contribute to effectively developing children’s creativity, critical thinking, design thinking, and digital skills.
“This will ensure that South Africa develops learners who are makers and inventors who will contribute to building an innovative culture in South Africa,” she said.
Government has made a substantial push towards digitisation and technology in South Africa’s education sector in recent months.
In his state of the nation address in February, Ramaphosa said that over the next six years, government will provide every school child in South Africa with digital workbooks and textbooks on a tablet device.
Ramaphosa said that the Department of Education would also expand the training of both educators and learners to ‘respond to emerging technologies’ including the internet of things, robotics and artificial intelligence.
On top of coding and robotics, other new technology subjects and specialisations will be introduced, he said, including:
- Technical mathematics;
- Technical sciences;
- Maritime sciences;
- Aviation studies;
- Mining sciences;
To expand participation in the technical streams, several ordinary public schools will be transformed into technical high schools, he said.