In her Basic Education Budget Vote Speech for the 2019/20 Financial Year the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, announced that the department has developed a Grade R-3 and Grade 7 Coding and Robotics curriculum; and would be piloting it from January 2020.
Read the article here: Grades R to 3 will start coding and robotics classes next year. Is it really a good idea?
Parents, teachers and readers of Parent24 had a lot to say about this, with many expressing concern about introducing these subjects at a young age, about a lack of resources and training, and more.
Parent24 reader Lila wrote to tell us that she is shocked that subjects that are so age-inappropriate are being taught to small children.
“One wouldn't try to teach a 6 month old child to walk. And we all know how triumphant and joyful a child is when it does take its first steps because it was ready to learn.
Why destroy the joy in learning by teaching small children, whose major gift is their imagination, with things they are not ready to be interested in? Instead of fostering that imagination, so that they maintain enough imagination to succeed when they are adults?
The imagination is fostered through the arts.”
On social media, readers were just as concerned:
Nazlee asked: How are we so excited about coding when basic literacy is still very much absent? What am I missing?
Romeo agrees with her: It’s a step in the right direction, but I agree with you on that. Basic literacy should be addressed first before we rush into introducing such things into our curriculum.
Bongo says: That was too quick! We don’t even have well-trained teachers for this. How are these kids going to learn to code? Rushing things because we don’t want to be ‘left out’ is going to mess up our children’s future!
Tisha is concerned: Grades R - 3 learners can't read, write or understand basic maths. How will they understand these new subjects?
Also read: 5 things South Africa must get right for tech in schools to work
Many teachers offered their perspective too:
Celeste shared her insight: I teach. I find grade 4's who can't read properly and don't understand what they are reading. I find grade 12's who can't add fractions. How on earth are they going to learn programming and coding without these basic basic basic skills.
Carin says: I am a teacher and this is the first I hear about this? When are they going to start training us? Where are we going to find the extra teachers and the extra money to pay them? Get the basics right before launching into this head-on!
Phindy revealed: I am pretty sure us as rural school teachers will be exposed to such after 5yrs, because when implementing such transformations a rural child is never prioritised, yet they are the ones making it big in life regardless of the obstacles and teachers will be trained and workshopped for 2 days. That is the story of us rural teachers.
Must read: Education in South Africa: hits and misses since the very first SONA
Taking our country to greater heights
Others are keen on the idea though, and believe that these classes will help South African children prepare for jobs and opportunities in the future.
Lunga says: The point is currently we hardly have any learners who can do coding. After this there will be a lot more learners who can do coding. There is definitely some talent and passion which will be unearthed. Look at the positive aspect of this. Of course challenges are there but something is better than nothing at all.
Siyethemba is supportive: This is totally awesome, loving this industrial revolution. I hope parents also support it fully.
Bianca says: Yes yes yes. Great to teach kids something they will use. The earlier they start, the deeper their understanding will be.
Nozipho is keen: Wow. Now this is taking our country to greater heights. Big up to the initiative and the master minds behind it.
Do you have insight or an expert opinion on the new curriculum?
Share with us, and we could publish your letter. Anonymous contributions are welcome.