Schools provide social cohesion, coherence, and organisation in society, in addition to their education imperative. In this modern age, they are still one of the remaining critically important nodes of connection between people and households, for today and the future possibilities of the many children who cross their thresholds on a daily basis—virtual or otherwise!

For the SBIDZ, we see schools as the perfect opportunity to encourage and support the leaders of tomorrow—leaders who will become active participants in the life of a re-imagined and prosperous Saldanha Bay, nurturing and sustaining its development and transformation.

The SBIDZ Saldanha Bay Schools’ Development Programme is one of four components in the bigger SBIDZ Saldanha Bay Community Engagement initiative. The Programme seeks, over a period of 20 years, to work with the young people in nine public schools of Saldanha Bay in a sustained, coordinated and intentional way to prepare them for full participation in the various aspects of life in a thriving Saldanha Bay town and region.

At the SBIDZ, we aim to become an internationally recognised, reputable and respected South African centre of technological and marine engineering excellence and, thus, drive regional economic rejuvenation. At the same time, we recognise that this goes hand-in-hand with transformation and development initiatives directed toward society.

As stated above, schools provide the best and most coherent avenue to reach many, impartially and quickly. And we are very aware that familiarity and access to digital technologies are increasingly becoming a minimum requirement for how people connect and business works.

Therefore, in conjunction with the West Coast Education District of the Western Cape Education Department (WCED), we sponsored a 20-week course, “Professional Practice: Applications of Dynamic Software for Secondary Mathematics Teachers”. The implementation of digital technologies in education requires the relevant digital skills for both teachers and learners. Teacher professional development courses on the use of dynamic software for teaching mathematics in secondary schools are necessary to advance digital skills and to draw attention to related factors, such as leadership and digital learning processes.

The short course was run by Dr Erna Lampen, Mr Alwyn Olivier, Dr Luci Abrahams and Mr Songezo Mata to help teachers feel more confident and comfortable with using the material, as this will have a positive impact on the learners.

For details of the course and the course leaders please click here.

This programme aimed to equip our educators with a combination of “strong pedagogical knowledge, digital skills, technical skills and leadership skills”. It is targeted at teachers “aspiring to be technology savvy”, hoping that they will inspire their pupils to greater heights and better equip them to face the future.

Insights from the experience of all involved in this pioneering practice in Saldanha Bay show us the way forward for a scalable, sustainable approach:

  • Schools require fast, reliable dedicated internet to the classrooms to employ teaching methodologies that require dynamic software.
  • Self-learning on content-enabled mobile devices is necessary to reinforce concepts learnt in class and stimulate independent, critical thinking.
  • Teachers require support, beyond exposure to a lecture environment, to reinforce their self-learning and confidence with the teaching methodologies.

Partnerships are being sought by the SBIDZ with the WCED to support the holistic programme needs. We call on interested parties to contact the SBIDZ Innovation Centre at innovationcampus@sbidz.co.za for details of how you can become involved.

The course was run under the auspices of the University of the Witwatersrand, Learning, Information, Networking, Knowledge (LINK) Centre at the Wits School of Education and the Stellenbosch University Department of Curriculum Studies. For more information regarding the WITS LINK Centre, click here.

Digital Technologies are Mission-Critical Today and Tomorrow article image showing all the attendees at the event