Even after a decade of robotic education in South Africa, more than 90% of the country’s pupils have never been exposed to the fundamentals of robotics – this in a time when SA’s education masters decreased the pass rate for mathematics to 20%.
IT News Africa reports this raises the “frightening prospect of a generation without mathematical skills – as the world at large embraces a fourth industrial revolution”.
The report says the fourth industrial revolution – also known as Industry 4.0 – is about to happen but South Africa is not prepared for it. In early 2000, the slow growth of robotics in South Africa was linked to cultural and socio-economic issues. But today, it is an entirely different issue as government seems to still prefer to promote arts and culture above science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Private schools in South Africa are already ahead of public schools, teaching pupils on robot education and investing in STEM subjects to up-skill the pupil’s knowledge for the future.
According to Dr. Markus Thill, President of Bosch Region Africa, as part of the Agenda 2063 of the African Union, there are certain elements that are relevant to robotics. The one is education, the second is self-sustainability and the third is industrialisation.
South African pupils, especially those in townships and rural areas need to be empowered to engage in robot education and to take subjects such as IT, science and mathematics – as 15 out of the 20 growing jobs require mathematics and science. At the rate the country is going, in the future the poverty and unemployment rates will only continue to increase.
It is critical that pupils not only learn how to use the technology but also compete in world competitions that provides them with the knowledge and understanding of how to create robots. “South Africa has great potential and we believe that if we teach pupils at a young age on how to design and build, we are providing them with the tools to think logically and change something quickly,” Thill is quoted by IT News Africa.