Coding, robotics curriculum to go live in January

Admire Moyo
By Admire Moyo, ITWeb's news editor.
Johannesburg, 27 Sept 2019

The South African government will start rolling out a coding and robotics curriculum for Grade R-3 and Grade 7 in January next year.

This was revealed yesterday by minister of basic education Angie Motshekga at the 9th South African Democratic Teachers Union National Congress held at Nasrec in Johannesburg.

“I am happy to announce that as a sector, we are ready for the skills of the future as part of the disruptive fourth industrial revolution,” said Motshekga.

“We have developed the Grade R-3 coding and robotics curriculum, and the development of Grade 4 to 7 curriculum is at an advanced stage.

“We will be trialling this curriculum starting January 2020 in Grade R-3 and Grade 7. Our teachers are being trained in computer skills, including new teaching areas such as robotics and coding, amongst others.”

The Department of Basic Education (DBE) believes the coding and robotics curriculum will develop learners’ ability to “solve problems; think critically; and work collaboratively and creatively; function in a digital and information-driven world; apply digital and ICT skills; and transfer these skills to solve everyday problems”.

Earlier this year, Motshekga said the University of South Africa (Unisa) agreed to partner with the DBE by making available 24 ICT laboratories throughout the country for the training of 72 000 teachers in coding.

The DBE is also working with civil society, academic institutions and businesses, such as Africa Teen Geeks.

With the support of Africa Teen Geeks, Unisa, North West University, ORT South Africa and Globenet, the DBE developed a framework for coding Grade R-9.

Google, Teen Geeks and other businesses are supporting the DBE to develop a coding platform that utilises artificial intelligence and machine learning to customise teaching and learning.

“We will continue to empower and equip our teachers with skills, knowledge and techniques for a changing world, as well as focus on foundational skills such as teaching literacy and mathematics,” said Motshekga.

“In this regard, we are implementing the Professional Development Framework for Digital Learning. Since the framework was adopted, we have set up provincial core training teams in six of the nine provinces.

“The rest of the provinces are to be covered in this financial year. These training teams are responsible for the roll-out in their provinces, and are also provided with resources to distribute to all teachers,” she added.

According to the DBE, the purpose of the framework is to provide guidelines for professional development, specifically in order to ensure competent educators who use ICTs to enhance teaching and learning.

It also provides guidelines to leaders and support staff to facilitate the development of digital learning competencies.