NATIONAL NEWS - President Cyril Ramaphosa has urged teachers to lead in the Fourth Industrial Revolution and they must also prepare the country’s children for technological advances.
He advised the teachers that the world was changing and the Fourth Industrial Revolution was changing every aspect of our lives.
He said government had already begun to structure the school curricula in a manner that considered the fact that many of today’s jobs would either not exist or not exist in their current form in the next two decades.
“We have begun to teach our children a manner that prepares them for the changing world of work,” Ramaphosa said.
Addressing the ninth congress of the South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu), Ramaphosa said the union had an important role to play in an increasingly digitalised world.
“Not only must you prepare yourselves for new technologies and new subjects, but you must also prepare our young people for this new world,” he said.
“New technologies can have both positive and negative effects on young people and teachers must be at the forefront of teaching children about both the possibilities and dangers of new technologies and media platforms,” he said.
In preparing pupils at a young age for technical-based skills and for university education, the government had introduced technical occupational training in its education curriculum, in addition to academic and technical vocational training.
As gender-based violence also occurred at schools and other places of learning, teachers were often the best placed to notice where pupils were victims or at risk and therefore the teachers must speak out about the scourge.
“This culture of silence empowers and enables perpetrators,” said Ramaphosa. “At the same time, we need a shift in society’s mindset to a culture that rejects patriarchy and recognises how gender stereotypes harm both boys and girls.
“Teachers, who have consistent contact with young people, are vital to changing mindsets and empowering young people to deal with harmful social relations.”
As many teachers were overburdened and under-resourced, government was duty-bound to ensure they were equipped and supported to play this role.
Ramaphosa warned that there were too many reports of sexual relationships between teachers and pupils, which he described as “abhorrent behaviour”.
More young people must be recruited into the teaching profession and government was ready to support them through the Fundza Lushaba Bursary programme, which would be expanded and streamlined in future.
“We must all work harder to recruit more young people to the teaching profession,” he said.