The State Information Technology Agency (SITA) has developed a curriculum at schools to include ICT initiatives such as coding, software development and other digital skills. This is a national initiative that SITA, in accordance with its business development plan, will implement one province at a time.
The Member of the Executive Council (MEC) for Education in the Free State, Mr Pule Herbert Isak Makgoe, will officially inaugurate the Free State SITA School of Software Engineering at Kopanong Secondary School at Turflaagte, Mangaung in Bloemfontein. The SITA Chairperson Mr Zukile Nomvete and Board of directors will also be in attendance.
Buoyed by both the NDP and the National ICT Policy White Paper, SITA’s aim is to empower all South Africans by enhancing service delivery through technology, creating partnerships to improve quality of life and – crucially – investing in skilling the youth. Investing in ICT skills for learners is investing in South Africa’s future.
In consultation with the Free State Department of Education, five schools have been chosen to pilot the SITA Schools of Software Engineering. Besides Kopanong Secondary (where the initiative will be launched), they are Thabo-Vuyo Secondary in Rouxville; Lekgarietse Secondary in Welkom; Rebatla-Thuto Secondary in Koppies; and Mohaladitwe Secondary in Makwane, QwaQwa.
The schools were chosen for their track record of academic excellence despite depressed socio-economic backgrounds, for their location (in five different district municipalities), and for the exceptional work ethic of learners, educators, governing bodies and parents. Each school is a stellar reminder of what is achieved when community stakeholders collaborate and work together to achieve great things.
As per the specifications agreed with the Free State government, SITA is providing 40 computers per laboratory, connectivity, a curriculum, mentors and technical resources for the programme. The SITA School of Software Engineering will equip learners with software-development, coding and other ICT skills. Graduates will either be offered scholarships for tertiary education in an ICT-related field, or given internships at SITA, or assisted in enterprise development to establish small, medium or micro-sized enterprises.
The schools are the embodiment of President Ramaphosa’s Thuma Mina call. SITA is proud of its association with each school, and has profound confidence in the example that each sets for a generation of educators, young people and parents.
This event will be the culmination of two years of hard work by SITA and the Free State government in their collaboration to respond to a National Development Plan mandate: create a digital society underpinned by the knowledge economy.
When MEC Makgoe inaugurates the School, Free State, SITA will also be responding to President Ramaphosa’s call for digital transformation and to Finance Minister, Tito Mboweni’s plea during his February 2019 budget speech to get South Africa ready for technology.
President Cyril Ramaphosa said in his State of the Nation Address on 7 February 2019 that South Africa was faced with “a stark choice” between “being overtaken by technological change or harnessing it to serve our developmental aspirations” – a choice between “entrenching inequality or creating shared prosperity through innovation”.
Unless South Africans adapt to and understand “the nature of the profound change that is reshaping our world”, the nation’s promise will remain unfulfilled.
We’re proud that SITA’s new academy will be part of the mainstreaming of the ICT curriculum. We envisage further expansion as we continue to leverage our ICT capabilities to transform communities. A bonus is that learners will have fun while helping to find technological solutions to socio-economic problems.
SITA has previously donated fully resourced laboratories to schools. However, the SITA School of Software Engineering will also invest heavily in skills development to provide a career kickstart for continued ICT studies, starting businesses, or taking part in Learnerships at SITA.