University of South Africa (South Africa) Transforming education through digitisation

Northern Cape Post School Education and Training Forum (PSET), in partnership with Unisa, hosted the 4th annual PSET conference under the theme Transforming the Northern Cape Education and Training sector for future jobs: Implications for pedagogy, curriculum, and articulation.

The Northern Cape PSET conference focuses on how there can be productivity, prosperity and job creation in the era of the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) and the now-changing world of digitisation.

Speakers at the conference mentioned the importance of seeing opportunities in the era of 4IR, emphasising that it is not a threat. Covid-19 forced organisations and institutions to transform and become innovators in the world of digitisation. Collaboration and partnership are obligatory for production, as change is inevitable.

Premier of the Northern Cape Province, Dr Zamani Saul, explained that basic and post-school education institutions must be creative in developing new curriculum and pedagogy approaches to ensure that graduates are intellectually equipped to engage with knowledge economy challenges and digital technology meaningfully.

“Education institutions are complementary in their approach to the development of qualification so that mobility and articulation are possible in addressing the challenges of unemployment, poverty, and inequality in the Northern Cape Province,” said Saul. “Capacities should be built and consistent with technology associated with 4IR,” he added.

Saul further said provincial government and essential stakeholders in education and vocational training, particularly in TVET colleges, must look for economic opportunities to maximise the participation of the people in the Northern Cape Province.

Neil Butcher, CEO of Neil Butcher and Associates, has researched education policy, higher education, distance education, education management, information system and education technology. In his presentation, Butcher said that Covid-19 has revealed clear fault lines in the current education system and closed learning opportunities.

“There needs to be an improvement in learning centeredness, and educators need to teach their students opportunity and not failure; learners need to be taught basic knowledge to succeed,” he said. He added that education technology needs to be introduced in primary education to help enhance the education system.

Prof Monde Ntwasa, Acting Deputy Executive Dean from the College of Agriculture of Environmental Sciences in the Department of Life and Consumer Science, emphasised the principles of ubuntu. He argued that the reformed and not transformed South Africa’s education system post-1994 had moved Africans from how they viewed society.

“Africans don’t dream as individuals, but we dream as a society; the reformed education system has moved us from the spirit of ubuntu and understanding the knowledge consumption and production and knowing the importance of radical transformation in our societies,” said Ntwasa.

He argued further that transforming pedagogy is imperative, especially when decolonising an African scholar and institution. The Post School Education and Training Forum (PSET) opens platforms to share knowledge that creates change, transformation and relevance in higher institutions.

* By Mmamokete Masekoa, Unisa Radio Journalist, Department of Institutional Advancement