Deputy Minister for the Department of Basic Education, Dr Reginah Mhaule, represented the Basic Education Sector in the 2022 Continent’s Premiere ICT Conference held at the Durban Exhibition Centre in KwaZulu-Natal Province from 13 – 15 September 2022. GovTech is the premier conference for Government and industry leaders to discuss the latest developments in the world of Information Technology, as well as Government’s effort to use technology to enhance service delivery. The 2022 GovTech gathered representatives from across Africa, including ICT experts, authorities and government decision makers on the continent. The Conference presented a golden opportunity for participants to connect, dialogue, collaborate and share knowledge in the area of ICT. The Conference was organised by the State Information Technology Agency (SITA), in partnership with the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies.
During the panel discussion, Deputy Minister Mhaule painted a broader picture in terms of the impact of technology in shaping the basic education sector for economic and social development: “I am glad that most African countries have enabling policies in place to accelerate digital education. For instance, in South Africa, the National Development Plan (NDP) 2030 advocates for the leveraging of Science and Technology to solve some of the biggest challenges in education, such as the delivery of electronic educational materials to remote areas. It also advocates for better structuring of the institutional arrangements to manage the ICT environment to ensure that South Africa does not fall victim to a digital divide. Effective integration of ICT into teaching and learning requires teachers to have the knowledge and skills to use ICT to enhance and transform learning. It is befitting to highlight that many African countries are making progress in the professional development of teachers using various frameworks such as the South Africa’s Professional Development Framework for Digital Learning. The majority of professional development frameworks of many African countries are informed by the UNESCO ICT Competency Framework for Teachers (ICT-CFT) that provides guidelines on the development of country specific national teacher ICT competency policies and standards and integrating them in overarching ICT in education plans. It is, however, imperative that the institutions of higher learning begin to produce pre-service teachers that are already trained in the integration of various technologies in teaching and learning. Relevant pedagogies should be introduced into undergraduate teacher training courses”.
The Deputy Minister further added that the DBE was currently working with Provincial Education Department (PEDs) to strengthen the effective implementation of the Three Stream Model in schools. “The introduction of an occupational and vocationally oriented curriculum in addition to the conventional academic curriculum constitutes the Three Stream Model in the basic education sector. The model seeks to strengthen subject offerings and better skilling of learners by increasing their access to technical and vocational skills subjects and schools in response to the evolving needs and trends of a digital economy and society. Through this initiative, learners will be awarded a General Education Certificate (GEC) qualification as a transition qualification upon meeting the minimum requirements as set out in the GEC Policy Framework. The GEC qualification aims to support learners to access the three learning pathways in the Further Education and Training phase in line with their abilities and talents. We have also successfully introduced Coding and Robotics in the sector. The Coding and Robotics in General Education and Training (GET) phase aims to provide learners with a computational thinking oriented education and requisite skills. Through partnerships with the private sector, the DBE was able to digitise the majority of state-owned textbooks. Digital education in South Africa is also enhanced through licensing obligations imposed on Mobile Network Operators (MNO) by ICASA such as the Universal Service and Access Obligation (USAO). The Department of Communications and Digital Technologies (DCDT) has indicated that over the next three years, MNOs are expected to provide connectivity to 18,520 schools through social obligations imposed by ICASA”.