The fourth industrial revolution – are we ready?

When we think about Artificial Intelligence, all our favourite Sci-Fi films come to mind, but low and behold, the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) is upon us in the world of education. There is good news and bad news – 4IR will present opportunities for all countries to develop their economy through innovative and amazing technology that has growth as its main objective. South Afric is part of that big change, unfortunately, 72% of SA schools are way behind when it comes to this revolution.

What exactly does the 4IR entail? This revolution builds on the third revolution, but combines multiple technologies from the best of all three worlds as we know it – digital, physical and of course, biological. This includes A.I., robotics, 3D printing, 5G and countless other technologies. This sure comes a very long way from the first revolution where the steam engine was invented!

When we take this into consideration, the World Economic Forum has estimated that 65% of learners that are starting primary school in today’s day and age, will land up following a career path in jobs that don’t even exist in our working world as we know it.

This brings us to the evaluation of the South African education system and the threat of readiness to welcome the 4IR:

  • Our current curriculum does not equip our learners with much-needed skills or education
  • Computer Science skills are the heartbeat of the 4IR, but very few primary- and high school learners have access to computers even in our advanced digital era. Most learners reach matric without even knowing their way around a computer!
  • Fast and reliable internet – this is even a challenge in some workspaces and if you can surf at a lightning-fast speed, it is going to leave a little dent in your bank account…
  • Coding – one of the most important technical skills that will be required for the 4IR. This is not currently part of our curriculum.

Teachers are currently not being provided with any form of training and development to equip them for the 4IR. Our government is going to play a vital role in investing in the future – from lowering data cost and upskilling teaching staff. Real partnerships need to form between governing bodies, the private sector and of course civil society. This is definitely not a gloomy subject, but rather something to look forward to and become part of the highly developed economies across the globe!




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