DBE to pilot draft Curriculum on Coding and Robotics in schools

The DBE is looking forward to the piloting of the draft Coding and Robotics Curriculum Grade R-3 and 7 during the third term of the 2021 academic year. The full-scale implementation for these grades is planned for the 2023 academic year. The pilot for Grades 4-6 and Grade 8 is planned for 2022, and will be followed by a Grade 9 pilot in 2023. The full-scale implementation for Grades 4-6 and Grade 8 is planned for 2024, and for Grade 9 in 2025.

Chief Director for MST and Curriculum Enhancement Programmes, Mr Seliki Tlhabane, said that the DBE has developed a roadmap for the implementation of this 21st Century digital skills subject, with a clear plan for piloting as well as full-scale implementation. The COVID-19 pandemic forced the Department to revise the initial timeframes. Mr Tlhabane explained: “The world and the place of work is changing rapidly. Future careers require persons with digital skills that will equip and enable them to function effectively in a digital era. The teaching of Coding and Robotics will equip and expose learners to digital literacy, virtual reality, augmented reality, machine learning, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things. The future requires individuals who will be able to build robots and other sophisticated machines, and to develop algorithms to code these machines. A code is an instruction given to a machine to follow, that enables the machine to perform instructed functions. So, it is important to prepare our learners for this changing world”.

“As Coding and Robotics is a new initiative, teachers will have to be trained to teach this new subject. This will be done through collaboration with Higher Education Institutions. At the moment, the country does not have enough teachers who are qualified in this aspect. We will rely on Universities’ Initial Teacher Development Programmes to supply the sector with these teachers. The introduction of Coding and Robotics will afford teachers an opportunity to be reskilled. The sector has already identified schools, as well as teachers who will be part of the pilot project, and these teachers have been taken through a curriculum policy orientation, which is a compulsory step in preparing them to teach any new subject. The attendance during the orientation workshops was overwhelming across all provinces, demonstrating the enthusiasm with which teachers are embracing the subject and the willingness to acquire new skills, this was also seen during the roadshows we conducted earlier in the year”.

As part of the preparations, the DBE developed the curriculum policy and planned the orientation and training of teachers. PEDs are responsible for identifying participating schools and teachers. DBE and PEDs continue to work hand in hand to ensure that schools are fully resourced for the effective implementation of the subject. Mr Tlhabane indicated that the sector has a responsibility to offer curriculum that will prepare learners for the world of work. DBE and PEDs will therefore have to ensure that Coding and Robotics is able to equip learners with 21st century skills. PEDs are committed to work with the DBE in piloting and implementing this curriculum. Several provincial education officials have mobilised school principals, School Management Teams and teachers to embrace this major change in our curriculum offering, and I am confident that our schools will make us proud,” Mr Tlhabane concluded. 

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