In the modern world, technology and innovation are essential for the progress of nations. The rise of automation, artificial intelligence, and other advanced technologies has made digital skills critical for daily life and employability.
South Africa’s Minister of Higher Education, Science, and Innovation Embraces Digital Skills
Dr. Blade Nzimande, South Africa’s Minister of Higher Education, Science, and Innovation, spoke about the importance of digital skills at the GovTech 2023 conference in Durban. He stressed the need for a digital skills revolution that focuses on empowering underserved communities, particularly women, youth, and people with disabilities in rural areas.
Government and Public Entities Taking the Lead in Digital Transformation
Dr. Nzimande also highlighted the importance of the government and public entities leading the way in adopting modern technologies to enhance service delivery. The Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) and the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) have been working together to create pathways for South Africans to gain digital skills and access innovation platforms.
Initiatives to Improve Digital Literacy and Skills
The South African government has initiated various programs to upskill and reskill students and the workforce to prepare for the future job market. These programs include reviewing and updating the offerings in Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges and introducing new courses in Robotics, AI, and other modern technologies.
One of the significant initiatives is the establishment of 4IR centers in seven colleges in collaboration with the Education, Training, and Development Practices (ETDP) SETA. These centers aim to teach cutting-edge technologies and foster technology innovation among TVET students. The Department of Science and Innovation has also established the Centre for Artificial Intelligence Research (CAIR), which conducts research into various aspects of AI.
Collaboration with International Partners
South Africa is also collaborating with its BRICS partners to explore opportunities for digital education cooperation. The 10th Meeting of BRICS Ministers of Education in July 2023 resulted in a declaration for all BRICS countries to explore these opportunities, including dialogues on digital education policies, sharing digital educational resources, and building smart education systems.
Embracing Digital Transformation to Achieve Inclusive Growth
South Africa aims to position itself as a digital hub for innovation and excellence through collaboration between government, business, civil society, and international partners. This will facilitate knowledge transfer and skill development, enabling the country to meet the challenges and opportunities presented by the digital economy and achieve inclusive growth for all its citizens.