South Africa moves forward with coding and robotics in schools

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The Department of Basic Education has confirmed its intention to move forward with the introduction of coding and robotics in South African schools.

Informing the parliament’s portfolio committee on education, the department said it was awaiting comments from regulator Umalusi on the proposed curriculum for the subjects.

The ministry said it then plans to launch a pilot project with R-3 grades in 200 schools in all provinces and with grade 7 in 1,000 schools in all provinces.

A national training team is expected to be formed in March 2021, and then train teachers in April.

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The department stressed that no additional teachers will be hired, with the new curriculum to be taught by existing teachers, after training.

Seliki Tlhabane, chief director of mathematics, science, technology and ICT at the Department of Basic Education, said a number of factors should be taken into account when introducing new subjects into schools.

This includes:

  • There must be a written and approved program.
  • There must be specialist counselors and oriented and trained teachers to teach the program.
  • There must be learning, teaching and support materials (LTSM) such as workbooks or digital resources.
  • Schools offering the subject must be ready and provided with the necessary resources (workshops, laboratories) depending on the subject.
  • There must be clear guidelines on how the topic will be assessed.
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Tlhabane said the department plans to take into account any suggestions Umalusi has made for the program and that it will be made available to the public for comment.

He said that this public comment, along with feedback from teachers, will be incorporated into the program. It will then become part of the Curriculum Assessment Policy Statements (CAPS) and become an official subject that schools can offer.

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The head principal said that during the initial phase there will be three teachers per pilot school, while the provinces have submitted the list of teachers to be trained from the founding phase and the 7th grade.

He said teachers will be trained in face-to-face as well as online classes through an initiative with Unisa.

Tlhabane said that unlike subjects such as science, this new curriculum does not need dedicated rooms in schools, which will make it easier to implement.


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