Every so often, you hear the suggestion that computer programming should be adopted in education curriculums and the suggestion is within reason. It’s one of the most sought after skills in the world right now and South African schools will be piloting a program that will see the skill being taught at 1000 institutions next year. The program is implemented teachers are undergoing training that teaches them how to code and subsequently how to teach coding.
The initiative is necessary as the “fourth industrial revolution” will alter the types of jobs available and the President of South Africa admitted as much:
As I undertook in the state of the nation address, we are introducing subjects such as coding and data analytics at a primary school level to prepare our young people for the jobs of the future.
Through various support programmes such as the South Africa Research Chairs Initiative (SARChI) and other targeted human capital development initiatives, the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) is building essential capability in all technology areas underpinning the Fourth Industrial Revolution.South African President – Cyril Ramaphosa
Some of the questions being asked are in regards to the cost of equipment and infrastructure necessary to make this curriculum change possible. There is a fear that some schools will simply not have access to the teachers or equipment necessary to learn these skills creating a gap between the have’s and the have not’s.
The programs which will be introduced will focus on the following areas:
- Data science and analytics;
- Blockchain and distributed ledger technologies;
- Additive manufacturing;
- Artificial intelligence;
- Robotics; and
- Quantum technologies
A shift in curriculum is necessary and I think the approach being taken by South Africa towards the issue is generally a positive one. Whilst they may not be able to roll-out the program countrywide it might be better to have sections of the population that have these skills than the entire nation pumping out graduates who are not good fits for the job market – which might be the case sooner than we anticipate. If successful the program could be spread to the rest of the country in stages.
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