Can South Africa pivot on Swahili?

South Africa is developing a new curriculum that includes Swahili, coding and robotics for grades R – 9.

This is according to the minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, who said that curricula will provide learners with an understanding of coding and robotics and will develop their skills and competencies to prepare them for the fourth Industrial Revolution.

“The curricula will ensure that our schooling system produces learners with the foundations for future work, and equip them with skills for the changing world,” Motshekga said.

“The curricula will provide learners with an understanding of coding and robotics and will develop their skills and competencies to prepare them for the 4th Industrial Revolution.

“The curricula will ensure that our schooling system produces learners with the foundations for future work, and equip them with skills for the changing world,”she said.

Coding

According to Motshekga, the coding curriculum will develop learners’ ability to:

  • Solve problems, think critically, and work collaboratively and creatively;
  • Function in a digital and information-driven world;
  • Apply digital and ICT skills;
  • To transfer these skills to solve everyday problems.

Motshekga said that the University of South Africa (UNISA) has partnered with the Department of Basic Education (DBE) by making available their 24 ICT Laboratories throughout the country for the training of 72,000 teachers in coding.

She added that Google, Teen Geeks and other businesses through are supporting the DBE to develop a coding platform that utilises Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to customise teaching and learning.

Coding as a subject will be piloted at 1,000 schools across five provinces starting in the 2020 school year.

Robotics

The DBE will also be introducing a robotics curriculum from Grade R-9.

Motshekga said that this robotics curriculum will have a strong foundation in engineering and will enable learners to build and operate robots through programming code.

“This robotics curriculum will not require any infrastructure or devices, but will need maker spaces to provide hands-on, creative ways to encourage students to design, experiment, build and invent; e.g., through cardboard construction activities,” she said.

She added that projects will become more challenging as the grades progress.

“In Grade 9, the learners will be taught how to build a computer from scratch,” she said.

“This will not only develop STEM skills, but also contribute to effectively developing children’s creativity, critical thinking, design thinking, and digital skills.

“This will ensure that South Africa develops learners who are makers and inventors who will contribute to building an innovative culture in South Africa.”

Kiswahili

As confirmed by Motshekga at the end of 2018, starting in 2020 South African learners will also have the option to take up Kiswahili as an optional second additional language.

Motshekga said the introduction of Kiswahili in South African schools will help to promote social cohesion amongst Africans.

“It was used as a trading language and a means of inter-ethnic communication long before the coming of Europeans in Africa. It is expanding to countries that never spoke it and has the power to bring Africans together,” she said in September.

Kiswahili is a Bantu language with lexical and linguistic similarities with many African languages spoken on the continent.

It is the third most spoken language, with more than 100 million speakers in Africa after English and Arabic.

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