Deputy Representative, UNICEF South Africa: Dr Yulia Krieger,
Managing Executive, Regulatory Affairs, Dr Andrew Barendse Vodacom
Public Sector Director, Microsoft South Africa, Ms Lilian Barnard
Deputy Vice Chancellor of the University of Johannesburg: Prof Sarah Gravett
Basic Education DG: Mr Mathanzima Mweli
Senior Managers from the Department
Leaders of Labour Movements
Teacher Centre Managers
E-Learning specialists and
I am greatly honoured to speak at this auspicious occasion, namely the official graduation ceremony of students who have undertaken the first-of-its-kind university accredited blended learning course known as Managing and Leading Education with Digital Technologies course.
The blended university-accredited Short Course Learning Programme (SLP) was presented at the University of Johannesburg’s Auckland Park Campus on the 11th to 14th July 2016, and it continued as an online virtual course from 15th July to 31th May 2017. The course saw department officials and educators complete E-Skills for All training and Assessor Training respectively.
This is truly ground-breaking for the sector such as ours that has suffered from inertia in the rapidly changing ICTs arena. Today’s event therefore represents a complete break with the past. We are now truly immersed in the ICT space and there is no turning back.
At the launch of this programme exactly a year ago, I said: “We have been alive to the fact that no ICT masterplan can succeed unless we invest more on e-skills amongst our teachers, subject advisors and senior education managers.” This programme has responded directly to this challenge.
In a humble way, Programme Director, this course and many other initiatives around the ICTs in education are placing the basic education sector firmly on the pedestal of the 4th Industrial Revolution. We stand on the brink of a technological revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work, teach, learn and relate to one another. In its scale, scope, and complexity - the 4th Industrial Revolution will be unlike anything humankind has experienced before. When compared with previous industrial revolutions, says a Fourth Industrial Revolution pundit, the Fourth is evolving at an exponential rather than a linear pace. As the basic education sector with a potential to unlock long-term economic growth and move society to the 21st century, we cannot afford to be left behind.
The reality confronting us today is that we can no longer teach the 21st century learners using the run–of–the–mill 20th century methods. The future beckons, and that future is digital - fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres.
Programme Director, it is now my singular honour and privilege to officially pass a word of gratitude to all our key partners in this journey namely, the University of Johannesburg, UNICEF, Microsoft and Vodacom. It is true that many hands make light work. As we always lament education is indeed a societal issue. We realised a long time ago that without symbiotic partnerships for improved quality basic education, we as Government, cannot be successful in a big way alone. We place a premium on basic education partnerships. We salute the brains behind this great initiative. It is truly all hands on deck.
We equally owe a debt of gratitude to all our officials who took up this challenge for lifelong learning. This is a very proud moment for the Department of Basic Education and all our partners. We are here today to pay tribute to all of the graduates who have successfully completed the Managing and Leading Education with Digital Technologies course that has been running over the past year. We know that this has been a challenging journey for all of you as you juggled your professional and personal lives with being part-time students yet you remained committed to this lifelong learning venture. We thank your families and loved ones for allowing you the time to grow your skills so that you can serve the Department and the basic education sector better. We thank your peers and your lecturers and tutors for supporting each of you through the triumphs and the challenges on your learning journey.
I have listened with great pride to stories of how many of you have applied your new learning about education theories and digital technologies to your daily practice as education professionals. I have heard accounts of the excellent assignments that all of you have submitted, that document your experiences as education managers and leaders in the District Teacher Development Centres and as e-Learning Specialists in your Provinces.
The proudest moment for me was when I heard that we have reached 93.3% completion rate on this leadership course and that now, many of you want to study further to complete your Post Graduate Diploma or even pursue your PhDs. These are the critical traits of dedicated lifelong learners who are committed to ongoing and continuous professional development.
It fills me with great pride to congratulate each of you for completing this course and for reminding us all that our Government and our Department have dedicated officials who are passionate about and committed to serving the public schooling system in South Africa. It is so apt that we are celebrating your success during the month when we celebrate the 99th birthday of one of the greatest sons of South Africa and world at large, Isitwalandwe/Seaparankoe President Nelson Mandela affectionately known as Madiba. Tata Madiba would be very proud of all of you for allowing his spirit to live on through your dedication and commitment to our country.
Allow me to also pay tribute to all the tutors, lecturers and facilitators on this short learning programme from the University of Johannesburg. I have been told about the long hours you have worked to support the learning journeys of all our officials over the past year. Many of our officials have heaped so much praise on the exemplary ways in which you have conducted yourselves. I understand that many of the tutors on this course are student-teachers. Thank you for your leadership and commitment. It makes me feel very confident about the future of our education system if our universities like UJ are producing teachers of your calibre to teach in our schools. Professor Gravett, you must both be very proud of your Education Faculty for producing outstanding student-teachers but also for producing 21st century education leaders and managers who know how to harness the potential of digital technologies to lead education programmes that are focused on improving learning and teaching.
To all our partners at UNICEF, Microsoft and Vodacom, thank you for working with us in developing a model for growing effective education leaders and managers who can use digital technologies to solve problems.
The design and implementation of this course, the wonderful community spirit that accompanied it, the dedication of all of you, are consistent with the policies and strategies of the Department of Basic Education as spelled out in our Action Plan to 2019 and in the country’s vision as expressed in our National Development Plan.
It pleases me to know that UNICEF is producing a case study write up of this experience and the University of Johannesburg plans to engage its academics and post graduate students to research the experience of this course.
It also pleases me to learn that many of you have contributed through this course, to the development of the Professional Development Framework for Digital Learning which we will be adopting formally as a Department very soon and which aligns with the goals of the e-Education White Paper and the Integrated Strategic Planning Framework for Teacher Education and Development. This Framework will offer a road map to all education officials, teachers and lecturers at post schooling institutions including universities to develop individualized professional development pathways supported by digital technologies.
Thus, in celebration of your wonderful achievement during the month of Madiba’s birthday, I am reminded of his famous words
“I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.”
Congratulations for conquering an important great hill. We will now work together to climb and conquer the many hills and mountains that continue to lie ahead of us.
I thank you.