- The Department of Basic Education is set to introduce coding and robotics as subjects according to its Annual Performance Plan 2022/2023.
- The subjects were piloted in primary school grades and will be piloted in some high school grades as of 2023.
- Coding and robotics are seen as beneficial for careers in software, medicine, military, finance, and gaming development.
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The South African school curriculum is due to offer coding and robotics as its newest subjects, as the world shifts towards a more automation and digitisation.
The Department of Basic Education last year gazetted 18 schools across the country to trial the two subjects, with two in each province.
The 2023 academic year will see Grades R to 3, and Grade 7 being taught the subjects. Grades 4 to 6, and Grade 8 will pilot the subjects this year, followed by Grade 9, in 2023.
The implementation of these subjects aims to better equip pupils to enter the digital era, and prepare them for future careers.
What the experts say
No specific detail has been given as to how the subjects were piloted and what the curriculum would typically look like. However, Amir Patel, Associate Professor at the University of Cape Town's (UCT) programme convener for the research unit for robotics, welcomes the introduction of the subjects.
Neetu Ramsaroop a lecturer at the University of the Witswatersrands (Wits) school of Business Science suggests a better approach would be to expose pupils to the subjects as opposed to teaching them.
"I think that some subjects taught at school can be detrimental to the student wanting to do the same at university,' she said, speaking specifically about the challenges of unlearning bad techniques and habits.
While the subjects have clear advantages, it is crucial that the government ensures that schools are well-resourced and that teachers are well equipped to teach them, Patel said.
In its plan, the basic education department says it will up-skill teachers to teach the new subjects, which it plans to do in collaboration with higher education institutions.
Patel said robotics was a good vehicle to show pupils what they can do with maths and science and said it was important for the government to strengthen mathematics and science in schools.
In addition to maths and science, English should also be improved, said Ramsaroop.
Here are some of the careers you can go into
For students at the Wits faculty, it's unlikely that a career in coding could be a "springboard" into a specific career, programming would more likely to lead students into Business Analysis, says Ramsaroop.
These are the careers you could find yourself in with a coding background, besides your typical careers in computer programming or app development.
- Data Analyst
- Web Developer
- Software Engineer
- Computer Software Analyst
- Computer Software Engineer
- Game Developer
Robotics can get you into any career that requires automation. It could be designing and making self-driving cars, programming washing machines, or working with airplanes.
A lot of students from the Engineering school of Mechatronics graduate and are employed in the finance and banking sector, with a handful working in insurance.
Mechatronics at UCT has the largest intake in their engineering faculty, with many high school students applying for the course.
The job opportunities are endless, and some yet to be discovered in coding and robotics; the exciting thing about them is that they are continuously evolving. Per Indeed, the robotics field has had increasing growth in the past 10 years, with multiple industries taking an interest in the field.
Robotics careers can lead you into sectors such as medicine, manufacturing, military and more.
- Software Engineer
- Maintenance Technicians
- Robotics Engineer
- Automation Engineer
- Sales Specialist
- Hardware Engineer
- Algorithm Engineers
- User Experience (UX) Designer