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Africa must lead, not follow, the 4th Industrial Revolution

The first installment of the Education Conversations for 2018, which took place in the Council Chambers of the Madibeng Building at the University of Johannesburg in Auckland Park, examined our understanding of the ‘changing world’ and unearthed the implications and impact of the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) on our education system.

Facilitated by radio and television entrepreneur, Masechaba Ndlovu, the event sought to unpack how South Africa can ensure that it has the necessary skills to adapt and keep up in a fast-changing world and contained presentations by Godwin Khosa and Dr. Jacqueline Batchelor.

Attendees agreed with Ndlovu’s opening statement that the 4th IR has already fundamentally changed the way we live and learn and is continually challenging us to think and grow as young people.

The role of Africa in the previous industrial revolutions was questioned. A popular fear expressed among invited UJ students and members of the public, was that the continent would merely jump on the 4th IR bandwagon, instead of leading it.

Many in the audience felt that perhaps Africa should be formulating and developing a context-specific revolution – one that is specifically for Africa – instead.

Keynote speaker, Godwin Khosa who is CEO of the National Education Collaboration Trust (NECT), legitimised these concerns during his presentation: ‘The Fourth Industrial Revolution in Education and The Impact on Education Development Implementation.’

Over the course of 45 minutes, he questioned how education would help bridge the gap between global technological developments and how our kids would be able to navigate in an increasingly complicated world.

“The world is complicated by, among others, technology. How we teach and prepare our kids for the 4th IR – and even the 5th IR – goes beyond technology,” he said.

Khosa further explained that all industrial revolutions were translated in the education space and stressed that no matter how the world evolved, reading and writing would continue to be vital criteria.

“Last year we spoke about how our kids are not reading. Seventy-eight percent of our kids are not reading for meaning. Part of the question is whether reading is important in the 4th and 5th IR’s? Realistically, it is going to be a window into these revolutions,” he stated.

He said STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) is evolving into STEAM as it now included the Arts. “The arts are coming back and we are trying to bridge the gaps and be flexible in our response to the various revolutions.”

Khosa explained that in all of the industrial revolutions that have already taken place, the kids of the wealthy and high-class were successfully able to navigate through them.

“They were the first to get to grips with them. It is not any different today. We need to make sure the children of the poor are not left behind, as the speed of development is astronomical. We should also avoid having Africa follow the rest of the world instead of leading this revolution. In this industrial revolution and in the next, we have to help the children of the poor not to be left behind.

“The possibility of leaving them behind is much greater now because the 4th IR is happening much faster than the previous three IR’s did,” he cautioned.

To view Mr Godwin Khosa’s presentation, please click the image below or Click Here

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