South Africa will move ahead with coding and robotics teaching in schools

The Department of Basic Education has confirmed that it plans to move ahead with the introduction of coding and robotics at South African schools.

Briefing parliament’s portfolio committee on Education, the department said that it is awaiting feedback from regulator Umalusi on the proposed curriculum for the subjects.

The department said that it then plans to introduce a pilot project with grades R-3 in 200 schools across all provinces, and with grade 7 in 1,000 schools across all provinces.

A national training team is expected to be trained in March 2021, whowill then train teachers in April.

The department stressed that no additional teachers will be hired, with the new curriculum to be taught by existing teachers, following training.

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Seliki Tlhabane, chief director of Maths, Science, Technology and ICT in the Department of Basic Education said that a number of factors needed to be considered when introducing any new subjects into schools.

This includes:

  • There must be a written and approved curriculum.
  • There must be trained subject advisors and orientated and trained teachers to teach the curriculum.
  • There must be Learning, Teaching, Support Materials (LTSM) such as workbooks or digital resources.
  • The schools that are offering the subject must be ready and equipped with the necessary resources (workshops, labs) depending on the subject.
  • There must be clear guidelines on how the subject will be assessed.

Tlhabane said that the department plans to take on board any suggestions made by Umalusi for the curriculum, and that it will be made available for public comment.

He said this feedback from the public, as well as input from teachers, will be introduced into the curriculum. It will then become part of the Curriculum Assessment Policy Statements (CAPS) and an official subject that schools can offer.

The chief director said that during the initial phase there will be three teachers per pilot school,  while provinces have submitted the list of teachers to be trained from the foundation phase, and grade 7.

He said that teachers will be trained in face-to-face lessons as well as online through an initiative with Unisa.

Tlhabane said that unlike subjects such as science, this new curriculum does not need dedicated rooms at schools, which will make it easier to implement.

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South Africa will move ahead with coding and robotics teaching in schools