If South Africa is to play in the big league of education, it needs to work harder to improve efficiency in key subjects, especially in early schooling.
This is according to President Cyril Ramaphosa who was speaking at the Basic Education Department’s Lekgotla in Boksburg on Monday (21 January).
Delivering the keynote address, Ramaphosa called on the basic education sector to focus on a number of critical areas which include:
- Early childhood development;
- Developing and implementing a comprehensive strategy on improving reading;
- Promoting inclusivity, efficiency and quality;
- Strengthening care and support for learners; and
- Developing capabilities in data analytics, coding, the internet of things and blockchain technology.
“It is at the basic level of education where we must inculcate and embed the culture of learning; where we must produce children who are obsessed with consuming existing knowledge and create a burning desire among them to produce new knowledge,” said Ramaphosa.
The president said by preparing children to excel from an early age, especially in the priority areas of science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics, South Africa will better prepare them for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Ramaphosa also called on the basic education sector to promote flexible learning pathways that ease the transition between all educational levels.
These include early childhood development, primary and secondary education, technical-vocational and technical-occupational education and training, as well as higher education and training, he said.
The president highlighted a General Education Certificate – or GEC – at a level below Grade 12 as one change which is likely to greatly facilitate the pathways between schools and colleges.
“Apart from facilitating the transition from school to college, a GEC would address the current problem of hundreds of thousands of young people leaving education completely each year, with no national qualification with which to navigate the labour market,” said the president.
While no indication was provided as to when this change could be made, it appears that the idea has officially been mooted.
Speaking to Parent24 in November 2018, the Western Cape Education Department’s director of communication, Paddy Attwell, said that the idea is being considered by government.
“The national Department of Education is considering a General Education and Training Certificate, but the matter is still under discussion,” he said.