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Source: Department of Education
Title: Pandor: Organisation for Resources and Training-Tech launch
of new technology
Address by the Minister of Education, Ms Naledi Pandor, at
the ORT-Tech launch of a new technology teacher training programme,
Jewish Museum, Cape Town
Mr Robert Singer, the Director-General of World ORT
Dr Osnat Dagan
Ms Alta Greef
In beginning, I would like to congratulate David Susman, the
Chairman of the Board of Organisation for Resources and Training
(ORT)-Tech, on his forthcoming 80th birthday on 30 October.
I am pleased to be among people who are contributing towards the
development of our teachers in mathematics, science and
Improving maths, science and technology education in South Africa
is a national priority that requires involvement and engagement
throughout all levels of our society.
This year government has taken a number of crucial steps to improve
maths, science and technology teacher training.
First of all, we are currently developing a national policy
framework for teacher education. The Ministerial Committee on
Teacher Education reported in July this year and has provided us
with a range of options.
Second, we have announced the new curriculum for grades 10 to 12.
This completes our revision and transformation of the curriculum
from grades 1 to 12. The new curriculum is a decisive break with
the past; it encourages the participation of teachers and parents.
It is not only about inputs but also about outcomes. It is a
curriculum that has at its heart the democratic transformation of
Third, we have increased the number of our focus schools for
science and maths excellence from under a 100 to over 400. We
analysed schools that had produced A to D results in standard grade
maths in the past; and we selected those that we thought would do
better with additional attention and resources. We will work
closely with these schools to support achievement in these
Last, we have encouraged teachers to train in the fields of science
and technology. Over the past four years we have spent R30 million
on bursaries to 4 050 mathematics, science and technology teachers
to take an Advanced Certificate in Education. To date, three
quarters of those teachers, who came from the Presidential Nodal
Areas in all provinces, have graduated. And we are encouraging
science and technology teachers to remain in harness through scarce
The challenge we face is this. Technology is a new subject with
very few teachers employed to teach it. It is a learning area that
has the potential to excite learners because it encourages doing
rather than listening and learning. But technology is clearly
closely linked to science. Teachers need to have basic scientific
knowledge in order to enthuse their children about new
Think of how cell-phone technology has transformed communication in
Africa. The use of mobile phones in Africa is increasing much
faster than anywhere else in the world. Some 75 per cent of all
telephones in Africa are mobile. But the new technology is bringing
many indirect spin-offs, particularly in sales in rural areas.
Mobile servers on motorbikes are now providing telephone
connections in rural parts of South Africa.
Then there are computers. Unhappily the $100 mini laptops that are
now being manufactured in the United States (US) are being field
tested in US schools. But enterprising foundations have pioneered
new small-scale computer labs. Where a computer lab would cost the
Department R500 000 to establish, the Shuttleworth Foundations
Tuxlab Programme sets up 20 work-station labs for R30 000 a
But as we learned very clearly last month from a Presidential
Advisory Council meeting on Information and Communication
Technologies (ICTs), the real cost now lies in connectivity rather
than in the hardware. Our biggest challenge is to reduce the high
cost of Internet access. And we have to offer our children broad
bandwidth and freedom to roam at little or no cost.
A few months ago I opened a school that had been built in three
days, using new technology developed by a South African company. It
arrived in a container and was built by builders without any
previous experience. And it was not a pre-fab. It will last as long
as bricks and mortar.
If every province was to have a stock of “classroom
blocks” ready in containers, we could respond much more
readily to needs, and especially to the demands of sudden pupil
migration. New construction technologies have the capacity to solve
many backlog problems.
Clearly, as these examples indicate, the project of education
transformation is too heavy for government to carry alone. That is
why we are very excited about initiatives from organisations like
yours that are helping us tackle the new field of technology in our
We congratulate the more than 500 educators who have graduated in
technology from your project, and those who have been trained in
mathematics and science. The launch of a formal training
certificate (Advanced Certificate in Education in Technology) that
can be taken at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology is also
a welcome innovation, as is the launch of new training material,
especially because it is linked to the new curriculum.
We support and will continue to support any initiative that is
aimed at sharpening our teachers’ skills, and contribute
towards the effective implementation of our new curriculum.
Your initiative has the potential to contribute towards the
improvement of the quality of teaching and learning in our schools.
We face a broad challenge to do with teaching and teachers. The
results pupils achieve are a direct consequence of what teachers do
in their classrooms.
In closing, it is vital that South Africa continues to build a
strong and productive skills base that will enable us to expand our
economy and to compete in a globalised world. But we can only do
this if we pay far closer attention in the future to good
“old fashioned” basic academic skills to do with
reading, writing, and numeracy.
I wish you every success with your celebrations!
Issued by: Department of Education
27 October 2005