Basic Education gears up for 4th Industrial Revolution

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

With International Literacy Day fast approaching, Basic Education (DBE) Minister Angie Motshekga has emphasised the need to improve the quality of learning and teaching in preparation for the 4th Industrial Revolution.

“We stand on the brink of a disruptive technological revolution and trends that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work, and relate to one another. In its scale, scope, and complexity, this technological transformation will be unlike anything humankind has experienced before. 

“We do not yet know just how it will unfold; but one thing is clear, the response to it, must be integrated and comprehensive, involving all stakeholders, from the public and private sectors, to the academia and civil society,” said Motshekga.

This year, International Literacy Day - commemorated annually on 8 September, will take place under the theme: “literacy in a digital world: taking measures to leverage the economic potential of the 4th Industrial Revolution”.

The Minister highlighted the urgent need for the country to equip itself during a debate on International Literacy Day at the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) on Tuesday.

The Minister explained that the DBE is preparing learners for the 4th Industrial Revolution through a three-pronged approach.

It consists of the revision to school curriculum design, including the PLAY-based learning methodology for the foundation phase, the provision of Information Communication Technology (ICT) resources to schools, and the integration of technology in teaching and e-learning through Operation Phakisa.

Motshekga said the advent of the 4th Industrial Revolution has also led to the expansion of the definition of “literacy” beyond just reading and writing.

“Educational institutions are now expected to meet learners’ needs through the integration of 21st century skills – referred to as the 5 Cs.  These 5 Cs are; critical thinking, communication, collaboration, creativity, and computational thinking. The 5 Cs underpin new forms of Literacy in the digital world,” she said.

Noting that the new forms of literacy are largely underpinned by developments in technology, the Minister shared details with the members of the NCOP on Operation Phakisa for ICT in education.

This includes the provision of core connectivity to schools; the development of learning and teaching materials; effective use of ICTs in the administration and evidence-based improvement of the education system and the preparation of teachers for an education system more strongly underpinned by ICTs.

“Critical for us, is the integration of ICTs into all the levels of the education and training system, in order to improve the quality of teaching and learning, by digitally transforming the basic education sector.  All stakeholders are aligning and delivering a consistent solution to all schools, to ensure that no school is left behind, because of its geopolitical location. 

“We want a learner in Lusikisiki to have the same access to ICTs, as a learner in Johannesburg.  For without this, such learners would be unable to cope with the demands of the 21st century and 4th Industrial Revolution,” said the Minister.

With modernisation of the classroom fast becoming a global phenomenon, Motshekga said the strides being made in certain provinces is encouraging.

“South Africa cannot and should not be left out. The progress we are seeing in Gauteng and the Western Cape, vis-à-vis the modernisation of the classroom, with the Eastern Cape and Free State following suit, is encouraging to say the least. The alignment of content and teaching methodology, to real life situations, in the context of the 4th Industrial Revolution, are therefore imperative,” noted Minister Motshekga. -