The country’s Department of Basic Education is implementing extensive curricular reforms and distributing new technological resources in an effort to increase student achievement in STEM fields, including mathematics, science, and computer programming.
Angie Motshekga, the minister of basic education, updated parliamentarians in a written Q&A this week on the progress being made in providing schools with resources to implement this policy. Motshekga said that one of the most important things to do is to use the STEM lessons that are already taught in schools.
In 2005, the department started the Dinaledi Schools initiative. In 2015, after a review by the DBE, it was merged with the Math, Science, and Technology Conditional Grant.
According to the department, the strategic objectives of the MST Grant are to increase the percentage of students who are successful in mathematics, science, and technology courses; increase the number of students who enroll in these courses; and raise the qualifications of the teaching staff.
It is important to note that the department’s recent push into new topics like robotics, coding, and vocational training has become a major aspect of the initiative.
Motshekga says that 485 schools, such as pilot schools for coding and robotics, have been given computer hardware and software that are specific to their CAPS tech subjects.
She also said that 1,256 classrooms have received STEM-related equipment and supplies, including coding and robotics kits, for use in classroom instruction.
The department said that 50,000 students around the nation had registered to take part in math, science, and technology olympiads, fairs, expos and other activities, with the use of resources like learner camps and supplementary learning, teaching, and support materials like study guides.
Furthermore, 1,500 educators in the fields of electrical, civil, and mechanical technology, as well as technical mathematics and technical sciences, have received formal, subject-specific training and orientation on CAPS.
Over a thousand teachers and subject advisers have been trained in math, physics, biology, chemistry, geology, botany, zoology, agronomy, chemistry, physics, technology, computer applications technology, information technology, agricultural management, and technology.
Starting in 2023, kids in grades R–3 and 7 will be required to take coding and robotics classes.
Some schools began implementing a trial program in these areas during the third semester of the 2021 school year. It hopes that in the coming years, younger students will be able to take similar courses that focus on technology.
A pilot program in coding and robotics for grades 4-6 and 8, as well as a pilot program for grades 9 and 10, is scheduled to begin in 2022. According to the department, full-scale implementation is scheduled for 2024 for grades 4-6 and 8, and for 2025 for grade 9.
Experts in the area of education have cautioned that the nation is experiencing a shortage of trained instructors, mostly because a large proportion of the present staff is reaching retirement age. Even though the department is giving more help and training for these new technical courses, there are still not enough people to take them.
When people have said there aren’t enough qualified teachers, the Department of Basic Education has said that more and more education majors are going into the field every year.
It said that in 2017, 25,000 people graduated and that enrollment patterns indicate that this number will continue to rise.