Government to phase in digitised textbooks from next year

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga says the department is ready to phase in digitised textbooks from next year. 

The Minister on Wednesday participated in a debate on the State of the Nation Address (SONA) in the National Assembly in Cape Town. 

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a week earlier during SONA that over the next six years, government will provide every school child in South Africa with digital workbooks and textbooks on a tablet device. 

The President said 90% of textbooks in high enrolment subjects across all grades and all workbooks have already been digitised. 

“We are excited about the Presidential Commission on the 4th Industrial Revolution that the President will establish, as we believe we are on the cusp of a digital revolution.   

“A comprehensive ICT plan has already been developed to provide a framework for an affordable and sustainable implementation of ICTs in education, which include digital content resource development (digitisation); ICT professional development for management; teaching and learning; as well as ICT infrastructure and schools connectivity,” Motshekga said. 

She said the department is encouraged by government’s commitment to work with them on these plans.

“As the President indicated during his SONA, in 2019 we will prepare the system for phasing in the rollout of the programme beginning with Quintile 1-3 schools located in rural communities and farms, especially multi-grade and multiphase schools, and special schools will be prioritised for the deployment of ICT infrastructure and resources.” 

Early Childhood Development 

Motshekga said rolling out a quality Early Childhood Development (ECD) programme, as envisaged in the National Development Plan, is a priority for the country, with the intention of improving the quality of education and the long-term prospects of future generations and society as a whole.   

She said in pursuance of the directive, the department has established a firm foundation for a comprehensive ECD programme as an integral part of the education system. 

“We wish to confirm that work has already begun to ensure a seamless and smooth phased migration of ECD and the declaration of a compulsory Grade R programme, with effect from the 2019/20 financial year.   

“…There are 8.2 million children aged 0-6 years in South Africa, 2.4 million of whom are currently attending ECD centres and 700 000 are benefiting from publicly subsidised care.  The expansion of ECD provisioning demands that we reach out to the 5.8 million children who may not be attending any ECD centre,” the Minister said. 

NHI Ideal clinics to be launched soon

Meanwhile, Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi said the National Health Insurance (NHI) signals a transition in the health sector, where people will no longer have to worry about the depth of their pockets in order to access quality healthcare. 

In his State of the Nation Address, the President said the NHI Bill would soon be ready to be introduced to Parliament and once passed into law, NHI will enable South Africans to receive free services at the point of care in public and private quality-accredited health facilities. 

“For the first time in the history of South Africa, NHI is going to make sure that receiving healthcare has nothing to do with the depth of your pocket,” Motsoaledi said. 

He said the NHI Ideal Clinics that have been under construction will soon be launched. 

“…I am here to report to this Parliament that eight of the clinics built under NHI have been completed… We are going to open them in March or April. Four are being built in Vhembe [in Limpopo] and in Gert Sibande [in Mpumalanga].” 

South Africa ready to assist in Zimbabwe

Also participating in the debate, International Relations and Cooperation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said Zimbabwe has been going through a challenging socio-economic situation, which has inadvertently had an impact on South Africa. 

She said South Africa has engaged the government of Zimbabwe and has a clearer idea of the problem.

“As such, South Africa stands ready to assist the country in addressing these challenges. We would like to express our strong support for the lifting of sanctions against Zimbabwe in order to allow for economic development in the country.”

Sisulu said, meanwhile, that one of the most remarkable things to have happened in recent times is in the area of economic diplomacy.

“The African continent continues with its upward economic growth trajectory, with a projected growth rate of 4% in 2019, and 4.1% in 2020 respectively.

“The establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in March 2018 will create the world’s largest single market of over 1.2 billion consumers, stimulate intra-Africa trade and investment, and grow GDP to US$3.4 trillion.

“South Africa acceded to the Treaty at the recent AU Summit and looks forward to the industrial and infrastructural investments that will follow,” the Minister said. –