Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams says government would not be able to work alone in preparing and ensuring that the country would be successful in the Fourth Industrial Revolution(4IR). FILE PHOTO: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)
CAPE TOWN -  South Africans could soon access educational content online via a US online education platform, according to  Communications  Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams. 

The Minister was speaking on day 1 of AfricaCom during a panel discussion on Fourth Industrial Revolution and Human Capital Development for Africa. Coursera is an American online learning platform founded by Stanford professors Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller that offers massive open online courses (MOOC), specializations, and degrees. 

Coursera works with universities and other organizations to offer online courses, specializations, and degrees in a variety of subjects, such as engineering, humanities, medicine, biology, social sciences, mathematics, business, computer science, digital marketing, data science, and others. As of June 2018, Coursera had more than 33 million registered users and more than 2,400 courses. 

As of August 2019 the number of course offerings was 3,600. In 2013, Coursera signed an agreement  for collaborationwith the World Bank. The collaboration was aimed at helping to  meet the demand for solutions-oriented learning on pressing issues in targeted countries.

The courses were planned to be offered as part of a new Open Learning Campus being built by the World Bank, “where practitioners, development partners and the general public could more systematically access real-time, relevant and world-class learning. This could be one of the reasons behind the plan by the South African government. During an interview with Business Report the Minister indicated that Coursera will form part of other online learning platforms that will be used by the government to enable South Africans to have access to skills. 

The tenth edition of the South African ICT Skills Survey carried out by the Joburg Centre for Software Engineering (JCSE) at Wits University and the Institute of Information Technology Professionals South Africa (IITPSA)  found that the Fourth Industrial Revolution has not yet had a significant impact on the South African ICT skills landscape. The survey found that almost all enterprises and all practitioners felt a need for more upskilling to meet the needs of the new era of digitalization.

Minister Ndabeni-Abrahams indicated that South Africa will soon sign an agreement with Coursera to enable South Africans to access this global learning content material. Asked about the reason for choosing Coursera amongst other online learning providers the Minister indicated that the US online learning platform has more content that is not available on other platforms. 

In 2015, the University of Cape Town became the first African university partner with Coursera to provide learning content.. Panel discussion participants on Fourth Industrial Revolution on human development included Dr Sibongiseni Tunzelana-Thotsejane who serves on the Presidential Commission on Fourth Industrial Revolution.