Coding and robotics in South Africa – what schools will actually be teaching

Basic Education minister Angie Motshekga has called for comments to amend the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS) to make provision for coding and robotics at South African schools.

In a gazette and notice published on the department’s website, Motshekga said that the subjects would form part of the curriculum at different school levels from Grade R to Grade 9.

The coding and robotics subjects are aimed at guiding and preparing learners to solve problems, think critically, work collaboratively and creatively, and function in a digital and information-driven world, the department said.

It added that learners will be able to apply digital and ICT skills and to transfer these skills to solve everyday problems and its possibilities.

“Furthermore, the subject aims at equipping learners to contribute in a meaningful and successful way in a rapidly changing and transforming society”.


Grade R – Grade 3 

In the foundation phase (Grades R-3) the subject has been organised into five study areas:

  • Pattern recognition – This includes learning to identify abstract and geometric patterns as an integral part of the design and computational thinking process which will assist learners in solving problems.
  • Algorithms and coding – This includes physical coding activities which progress from Grade 1 to digital platforms that are easy-to-learn and fun for learners to engage with.
  • Robotics skills – Learners are introduced to the fundamental mechanical and electrical engineering systems and circuits that are used in robotics. It will include creating logical steps that robots can follow as well as an understanding of basic electrical circuits.
  • Internet and e-communicating – This will cover topics such digital identities, safety on digital platforms, a basic overview of networks and the internet, and the safe use of web browsers to search for information.
  • Application skills – This will include the teaching of basic text editing and spreadsheet applications, as well as the use of digital devices.


Grade 4 – Grade 6

In the intermediate phase (Grades 4-6) the subject has been organised into four study areas:

  • Algorithms and coding – Algorithm and coding programming skills will be primarily developed by using a block-based coding platform. The block based platforms make use of easy to understand, drag and drop type coding where learners can focus on getting the details and correct inputs in the programs.
  • Robotics skills – This will introduce microcontrollers that will be coded using a block-based coding platform.
  • Internet and e-communication – Topics will include digital citizenship and Internet use as well as concepts of piracy, plagiarism and copyrights.
  • Application skills – Topics will include text-editing, spreadsheets, multimedia editing and computer-aided drawing.

 


Grade 7 – Grade 9

In the senior phase (Grades 7-9) the subject has been organised into four study areas:

  • Algorithms and coding – Algorithm and Coding programming skills in the senior phase are primarily developed by using a line based programming interface. Learners are introduced to a line based coding platform through a hybrid programming platform consisting of block-based and line-based coding. The line based programming platform makes use of easy to understand, syntax free programming where learners can focus on the programming concepts that are being taught.
  • Robotics skills – Robotics consist of two merging fields that including coding and engineering. Learners continue with mechanical and electrical engineering systems. The robotics strand combines the engineering design process and computational Thinking Process. The strand also introduce microcontrollers that will be coded using a line based coding platform
  • Internet and e-communication – This is aimed at providing skills which prepare learners to interact safely in a digital online and offline world;
  • Application skills – This is aimed at developing end-user skills that are used on different digital platforms. In the senior phase, learners are expected to engage with applications that build on data analysis and website development skills. This includes HTML and CSS, as well as spreadsheet applications.


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Coding and robotics in South Africa – what schools will actually be teaching