South Africa needs to invest in methods to drastically improve its current ranking as one of the worst in the world for math and science education, especially when it is expected that in the next decade, 80% of all jobs will require skills in maths, science and technology.
In response to this challenge, the Western Cape and Kwa-Zulu Natal provincial governments are in talks to pilot the introduction of virtual reality (VR) learning solutions in selected government schools.
Initial results from the inclusion of this technology in South African classrooms has led to positive development in learner behaviour and attitude with 70% of learners indicating that the addition of VR to their syllabi would motivate them to take science and maths related subjects in the future.
Through the technology, learners can experience the immersive VR world in which they can travel to New York to see the Statue of Liberty, take a virtual train ride to learn about the concept of relative motion or step inside a green leaf to see the production of oxygen through photosynthesis.
“If you plot historic innovation on a timeline, the results are astounding. Innovation is happening more rapidly than ever before,” said Tanya Jackman, event director of EduWeek Africa, which takes place at the TicketPro Dome in Johannesburg on 15 – 16 June 2018.
“This has led to a massive shift in education practices worldwide. Suddenly, with the use of technology, we are able to pick up learner’s problems long before any human intervention could; enabling educators to meet learners where they are and allowing them to learn at their own pace,” she said.
“We as educators need to develop an attitude of ‘lifelong learning’ allowing us to constantly adapt and adopt innovations within our classrooms and teaching practices. It is imperative for us as a country to facilitate and support these developments as effectively as possible,” said Elijah Mhlanga, chief director for communications at the Department of Basic Education.
“Continued investment in educational technology will enable South Africa to become an economic global competitor and facilitate the bridging of gaps within our country, and between us and the rest of the world,” Mhlanga said.