The DBE, in partnership with the Sasol Foundation and Adcorp Group Holdings, recently hosted the Sasol Foundation's fifth Annual Technical Teachers’ Conference to review the extent to which Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and Technical-Vocational Education, is supported in South Africa. The Conference, which was held virtually due to the level of COVID-19 resurgence, was themed: “Infusing Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) Technologies in the Teaching of Technical Subjects”. For the past five years, the partnership has been used as an opportunity to share best practice whilst reviewing curriculum challenges to ensure that teachers were exposed to latest technologies and industry practices. The Conference also intended to boost the Basic Education Sector in producing a generation of adequately trained artisans who possess the correct combination of knowledge and required skills in steering South Africa forward.
In her opening remarks, Ms Charlotte Mokoena, Sasol Executive Vice President for Human Resources and Stakeholder Relations, said that South Africa, like many of its developing country counterparts, was faced with the challenge of having a predominantly unskilled or semi-skilled workforce. “This remains a significant risk, as we need to find more innovative ways to revitalise our economy sufficiently post the COVID-19 pandemic. Like many countries, we will need to be more globally competitive. Whilst great strides have been made over the last few years, South Africa still needs more engineers and artisans. Although, the goal is to produce a minimum of 30,000 artisans a year by 2030, presently the country produces between 15,000 and 17,000 artisans per year,” she explained.
Ms Mokoena further added that the state of the unemployment rate in the country calls for an urgent paradigm shift in the Basic Education Sector. “According to Trends in Teacher Education (2016), South Africa graduates approximately 2% of 15,000 teachers per year in Technical-Vocational Specialisation. Our education system still focusses largely on academic rather than vocational streams. I am aware of and commend the move by the Department to address this through the introduction of the Three-Stream Model, however, we are yet to make significant strides. The South African economy continues to raise the challenge of skills and qualification requirements, particularly among the youth. Our teachers, when properly equipped with the right skills, are an important part of the solution to address this challenge. Sasol is proud to have partnered with the DBE to roll-out the Coding and Robotics curriculum in schools as a way of introducing new technologies in our education system. These efforts will benefit teachers from 1,200 schools and 60,000 Grade R-3 and Grade 7 learners with the best possible chances to succeed in a fast-changing global environment and apply digital and ICT skills to solve everyday problems by thinking critically and creatively.”
During the Conference, Sasol pledged an amount of R2.5 million, which will be invested in the reviewing and developing of a future-focused Blueprint for Training and Development of Technical Teachers. The DBE and the Sasol Foundation are convinced that the partnership will assist in terms of developing a critical model for competent teachers of vocational skills, as well as strengthening current resources.