Ladies and Gentlemen
It is my great honour and privilege to be here this morning and be part of the Microsoft Training Partner Summit.
Programme Director, quality education is no longer about chalk and chalkboards. That’s the education of the 20th century. It is the education of yesteryear. Today, we are been called upon to be midwives of a new type of education that is futuristic and digital.
We must admit that the transformation of our education system into 21st century learning environments that provide our learners with the skills they need to succeed in today's information age economy is long overdue.
Our developmental blueprint, the National Development Plan (NDP): Vision 2030 has identified science, technology and innovation as a crucial weapon in the arsenal to free South Africans from poverty, underdevelopment and unemployment. The NDP states that ICT is seen as an enabler with the potential to speed up delivery, support analysis, build intelligence and create new ways to share information, learn and engage. The NDP says by 2030:
- ICT will underpin the development of a dynamic and connected information society and a vibrant knowledge economy that is more inclusive and prosperous.
- A seamless information infrastructure will be universally available and accessible to all.
The NDP derives its bold pronouncement on the resolution of the governing party, the African National Congress (ANC). In its 53rd Conference (2012), the governing party, the ANC resolved that there shall be promotion of an e-literate society by making e-skills a compulsory subject in all public schools. It said this requires the curriculum to focus on end-user computing as well as encouraging young people to pursue careers in the ICT sector. The ANC further called upon the basic education sector to develop a detailed sectorial plan to strengthen the implementation of the National Development Plan (NDP) in order to maximize the value of the development of ICT, and also accelerate the uptake and usage of ICT tools.
The DBE’s Action Plan to 2019: Towards the Realisation of Schooling 2030 recognizes ICT as an enabler for goals on strengthening teacher subject knowledge and pedagogical skills, providing access to ICT to learners, engaging in district support and monitoring and building parent and community participation in school governance.
In late 2015, the DBE hosted an ICT in Education Lab under the rubric of Operation Phakisa, a Presidential initiative, to fast-track implementation (modelled from the Malaysian experience of big fast results). The lab developed detailed implementation plans along five work streams: (1) Connectivity; (2) Devices; (3) Teacher Professional Development; (4) Digital Content Development and Distribution; and (5) e-Administration.
These policies and initiatives provide an important backdrop against which the DBE has developed the Professional Development Framework for Digital Learning, which was recently approved by the Council for Education Ministers. The Framework strongly foregrounds pedagogical transformation, recognizing that teacher development will be best approached through a combination of pedagogical, content and technological knowledge, as described in the TPACK knowledge framework. It is a premise of the Framework that neither mere access to technology, nor the acquisition of basic digital skills will translate into better teaching and learning. The Framework calls for digital literacy to take place in the contexts of the seven collective roles of teachers in a school, as outlined in the Revised Policy on the Minimum Requirement for Teacher Education Qualifications (2015).
Thirteen digital learning competencies are identified in the Framework. These competencies seek to identify the scope of professional development for digital learning and one of these competencies recognizes the development of digital literacy skills in the contexts of the collective roles of educators. Other foundational competencies recognize the value of professionalism, reflection on practice, professional learning communities and the unique roles of teachers, learners and content in a digital learning environment.
Five digital learning competencies focus on the curriculum and include the integration of digital tools and resources in diverse contexts, community and global awareness through collaboration, innovation, assessment and digital citizenship.
The digital learning competencies are completed by a set of three competencies related to leadership; the commitment to a vision for digital learning, participatory change leadership and taking the initiative in a collaborative peer-to-peer coaching approach which can build a broad and sustainable base of digital champions in our schools.
As mandated by the Integrated Strategic Planning Framework for Teacher Education and Development 2011-2025 the Framework uses these non-punitive competencies to lead educators through a diagnostic self-assessment with a view to recognizing their own individual professional development needs. Critical to this process is the provision of endorsed professional development activities that align to the Framework’s competencies and guidelines for professional development. The South Africa Council for Educators (SACE) fulfills this role through its Continuing Professional Teacher Development (CPTD) System. SACE evaluators have already evaluated and endorsed over 40 professional development activities for digital learning. These include courses developed through Microsoft’s Partners in Learning Programme and those offered on the Microsoft Educator Community.
The DBE recognises the valuable contribution that Microsoft has played in supporting teacher development for digital learning in this country. We note the contribution of the Microsoft Imagine Academy in providing curricula and resources to train and certify students and educators on Microsoft products and technologies. The DBE hopes that it will be possible to align the Imagine Academy offering for teachers to the SACE CPTD system so that these activities and skills being developed may also be recognised for the professional development points that teachers are required to accumulate over a period of time.
Partnerships are critical to the achievement of education transformation in South Africa. We recognise the value of teachers in the classroom supported by digital tools and resources. It requires partnerships with role players in all the Operation Phakisa work streams and the DBE will continue to do the work that it does to foster relationships with our National Development Plan in mind.
In conclusion, the use of ICTs in education is no longer a choice. It has become a necessary part of our education transformation agenda. We are here to learn how best to harness the potential of digital technologies to improve learning, teaching and education management.
I thank you.