SA education system ‘must go digital’
Communications minister Stella NdabeniAbrahams wants all schools to drop chalk boards for e-books and to use technology to teach.
She said it was essential that South Africa’s education system moved with the digital times.
In an interview in Durban on Friday, where the ANC is holding its 107th birthday celebrations, Ndabeni-Abrahams said: “We cannot delay our kids anymore. At the age of two, children are supposed to be exposed to technology if you want them to be innovative. But now we have been left behind already.
“We can’t afford to leave out our children in the fourth revolution. And that is why as a minister of communications, I would suggest [to President Cyril Ramaphosa] to digitalise all classrooms.”
The minister, who is also the ANC’s Eastern Cape provincial executive committee member, said technological development was needed most in her home province, among others, because infrastructure backlogs in these provinces had already disadvantaged pupils there.
“It’s not about the school building. If you give your son or daughter that smartphone, they know how to Google or get whatever information to solve problems that some teachers are unable to solve.
“They are innovative as young people. Why deprive them just because there is poor infrastructure?”
In rolling out a massive digital programme, she said the entire education system would have to be overhauled.
She said emphasis would have to be on “innovation, science, engineering, maths, and most importantly, mother tongue [languages]”.
Ndabeni-Abrahams said the world system which required everyone to attend university or college in order to acquire skills was outdated, saying there were online programmes that could empower the youth.
“We have got to move away from a theorybased education system to practical and innovative ways of educating young ones and that is why I’m advocating prioritisation of science, technology, innovation, engineering, maths and languages because we can’t have machines and IT systems that are programmed in Chinese and Japanese.”
Her recommendations came a day before Ramaphosa was scheduled to table the ANC’s election manifesto at the Moses Mabhida Stadium on Saturday.
The most pressing challenge the country faces towards the May general and provincial elections is the high level of unemployment, especially among the youth.
Ndabeni-Abrahams said, given an opportunity to provide solutions to the high level of youth unemployment, she would propose that all civil servants who were older than 65, be asked to resign.
“If you go to government departments, you have people who are old.
“Some are 70 years, and others aged 65-plus but they are still fighting to remain in the system and are refusing to retire.
“Why can’t we engage these people and say, ‘for the good of the country, not that you are not adding value, can you resign?’
“They can contribute, perhaps as advisors,” she said, adding that her greatest fear was that the skilled but unemployed youth would one day revolt and say, ‘no one is going to go to work’, in protest.
“One day they will do that if we are not doing a thing about the high level of unemployment,” she said.
IT’S TIME : Minister Stella Ndabeni at the ANC’S 107th birthday weekend.