Motshekga recently announced the department was developing coding and robotics curricula to be included from grades R to 9.
It is expected to be piloted at 1 000 schools across five provinces, starting in the next academic year.
Motshekga said the Coding Curriculum would develop pupils’ ability to solve problems, and function in a digital and information-driven world.
Unisa has partnered with the Department of Basic Education (DBE), making their 24 ICT laboratories throughout the country available for training 72000 teachers, while Google, Teen Geeks and other businesses across Africa gave their support in developing a coding platform, said Motshekga.
Varady, who is recognised by Microsoft as a global thought leader on education, and who works across South Africa, said hardware, digital content and training were needed to make the project successful.
“It is highly encouraging that the government is developing curricula for coding and robotics for Grade R to Grade 9. Few countries in the world have taken the step to make coding a core curriculum subject.
“But before the hardware is put in place, excellent and relevant digital content for the South African classroom, which delivers interactive resources for learners is key, coupled with the professional development of teachers.
“If these building blocks are put in place, educational technology will have an invaluable effect on teaching and learning in South Africa, and therein benefit the delivery of advance technology subjects like coding and robotics,” Varady said.
Opportunities in the sector were still brand new and developing, Varady said, and some would be technological enhancements of current jobs.
“The integration of technology and transformation of our society, as predicted by thought leaders during the 4th Industrial Revolution, means that undertaking coding and robotics does not mean you will only be a programmer, coder or mechanical engineer, but rather you may end up needing the skills, thinking and code language applications in your everyday role.”
At least three teachers in 16 000 primary schools were expected to be trained in coding. “This will ensure that South Africa develops learners who are makers and inventors who will contribute to building an innovative culture,” Motshekga said.