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Address at the Organisation for Resources and Training-Tech launch of a new technology teacher-training programm, 27 October 2005, Minister Naledi Pan speeches


Address by the Minister of Education, Ms Naledi Pandor, at the ORT-TECH launch of a new technology teacher-training programme

27 October 2005

Mr Robert Singer, the Director General of World ORT
Dr Osnat Dagan
Ms Alta Greef
Distinguished guests
In beginning, I would like to congratulate David Susman, the Chairman of the Board of ORT-Tech, on his forthcoming 80th birthday on 30 October.

I am pleased to be among people who are contributing towards the development of our teachers in mathematics, science and technology. 

Improving maths, science and technology education in South Africa is a national priority that requires involvement and engagement throughout all levels of our society.

This year government has taken a number of crucial steps to improve maths, science and technology teacher training.

First of all, we are currently developing a national policy framework for teacher education. The Ministerial Committee on Teacher Education reported in July this year and has provided us with a range of options.

Second, we have announced the new curriculum for grades 10 to 12. This completes our revision and transformation of the curriculum from grades 1 to 12. The new curriculum is a decisive break with the past; it encourages the participation of teachers and parents. It is not only about inputs but also about outcomes. It is a curriculum that has at its heart the democratic transformation of education practice. 

Third, we have increased the number of our focus schools for science and maths excellence from under a 100 to over 400. We analysed schools that had produced A to D results in standard grade maths in the past; and we selected those that we thought would do better with additional attention and resources. We will work closely with these schools to support achievement in these subjects.

Last, we have encouraged, and we are encouraging, teachers to train in the fields of science and technology. Over the past four years we have spent R30 million on bursaries to 4,050 mathematics, science and technology teachers to take an Advanced Certificate in Education. To date, three quarters of those teachers, who came from the Presidential Nodal Areas in all provinces, have graduated. And we are encouraging science and technology teachers to remain in harness through scarce skills incentives.

The challenge we face is this. Technology is a new subject with very few teachers employed to teach it. It is a learning area that has the potential to excite learners because it encourages doing rather than listening and learning. But technology is clearly closely linked to science. Teachers need to have basic scientific knowledge in order to enthuse their children about new technologies.

Think of how cell-phone technology has transformed communication in Africa. The use of mobile phones in Africa is increasing much faster than anywhere else in the world. Some 75 per cent of all telephones in Africa are mobile. But the new technology is bringing many indirect spin-offs – particularly in sales in rural areas. Mobile servers on motorbikes are now providing telephone connections in rural parts of South Africa.

Then there are computers. Unhappily the $100 mini laptops that are now being manufactured in the US are being field tested in US schools. But enterprising foundations have pioneered new small-scale computer labs. Where a computer lab would cost the Department R500,000 to establish, the Shuttleworth Foundations tuxlab programme sets up 20 work-station labs for R30,000 a pop.

But as we learned very clearly last month from a Presidential Advisory Council meeting on ICTs, the real cost now lies in connectivity rather than in the hardware. Our biggest challenge is to reduce the high cost of internet access. And we have to offer our children broad bandwith and freedom to roam at little or no cost.

A few months ago I opened a school that had been built in three days – using new technology developed by a South African company. It arrived in a container and was built by builders without any previous experience. And it was not a pre-fab. It will last as long as bricks and mortar.

If every province was to have a stock of “classroom blocks” ready in containers, we could respond much more readily to needs, and especially to the demands of sudden pupil migration. New construction technologies have the capacity to solve many backlog problems.

Clearly, as these examples indicate, the project of education transformation is too heavy for government to carry alone. That is why we are very excited about initiatives from organisations like yours that are helping us tackle the new field of technology in our schools.

We congratulate the more than 500 educators who have graduated in technology from your project, and those who have been trained in mathematics and science. 

The launch of a formal training certificate (Advanced Certificate in Education in Technology) that can be taken at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology is also a welcome innovation, as is the launch of new training material, especially because it is linked to the new curriculum. 

We support and will continue to support any initiative that is aimed at sharpening our teachers’ skills, and contribute towards the effective implementation of our new curriculum.

Your initiative has the potential to contribute towards the improvement of the quality of teaching and learning in our schools. We face a broad challenge to do with teaching and teachers. The results pupils achieve are a direct consequence of what teachers do in their classrooms. It really is as simple and as complex as that.

In closing, it is vital that South Africa continues to build a strong and productive skills base that will enable us to expand our economy and to compete in a globalised world. But we can only do this if we pay far closer attention in the future to good “old fashioned” basic academic skills to do with reading, writing, and numeracy. 

I wish you every success with your celebrations!

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Written By: Administrator Account
Date Posted: 6/30/2008
Number of Views: 700

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