2nd Annual ASSAf SBLF: Schools, Business and 4IR Imperatives
The 2nd annual ASSAf Science-Business Leadership Forum (SBLF) was hosted by ASSAf in partnership with Jakes Gerwel Fellowship on 27 November 2019 at Allan Gray, V&A Waterfront, Cape Town, titled Schools, Business and 4IR Imperatives.
The objective of the forum was to address the implications of technological innovations associated with 4IR to advance effective teaching and learning in South African (SA) schools, in particular, how these technologies can resolve inequalities in science and mathematics education, especially in disadvantaged schools.
The main speaker was Mr Stafford Massie, the former head of Google South Africa and General Manager of WeWorks, who has vested interest and knowledge when it comes to 4IR in relation to education and development. Some of the technologies that he’s invested in include Thumbzup, a secure mobile payment solution for retailers.
Stafford’s presentation was followed by a panel discussion. The first panellists, Ms Wendy Horne, principal of Protea Heights Academy indicated that her school gives priority to technologies that incorporate science and mathematics. The second panellist was Mr Haroon Mohamed, Chief Director of Curriculum Management and Teacher Development who highlighted that the national Department of Basic Education (DBE) has adopted a competency framework and is now looking at introducing new subjects in Robotics.
Further deliberations highlighted the following:
- There are challenges that come with 4IR, which include the fear of job losses. Stafford maintains that people need to be augmented with new technologies to be effective.
- South Africa should consider adopting the Code of America concept.
- Employees, including teachers need to be empowered with 4IR related skills. Although funding poses a big challenge.
- There’s a need for policies to address and manage 4IR including privacy, ethics, challenges of using big data etc.
- Re-look at the structure of schools and concept of teaching in South Africa.
- Curriculum should incorporate technology, including artificial intelligence.
- Introduce strategies to close the gap of digital divide.
- Technology has potential to advance teaching and learning in schools and other aspects of our lives.
The forum was attended by representatives from Parliament, including the Deputy Speaker, Mr Solomon Tsenoli, business leaders, scientists, learners, funders, educators and NGOs. The purpose of the annual ASSAf SBLF initiative, facilitated by ASSAf’s president, Prof Jonathan Jansen, is to create a platform in which leading experts from the private sector could engage with prominent scientists from the Academy to deliberate on critical issues affecting both science and the business community.