Many African nations today are seeking the right solutions to overcome the challenges in the path of sustainable development. They were looking to create development which is not just inclusive, socially cohesive and builds national character but also alleviates poverty, promotes economic prosperity and brings the country on the world platform. Distilling the 'right' solution for a nation calls for a sound policy and political environment, capacity building of its people and institutions, alliances with strong development advisors and partners, and of course, a well thought through vision.
South Africa has been making a huge effort to achieve sustainable development and build the nation in the last two decades. The fact that the nation is focused on attaining its development targets is substantiated by
South Africa's National Development Plan—Vision for 2030, released in November 2011. The Plan charts the way forward for the feisty nation through elimination of poverty and reduction of inequality.
At its core, lies building capabilities of and creating opportunities for the South African people and institutions. A capabilities approach to development is critical to broadening opportunities, which in turn, is an essential element of the nation-building process.
The Plan, which is being implemented following an 'inclusive capabilities' approach, is expected to achieve its goals for Education, Training and Innovation by 2030. Some of the more critical targets include enabling about 80 percent of schools and learners to achieve 50 percent and above in literacy, mathematics and science in grades 3, 6 and 9. The country is also keen for at least 80 percent of children to complete 12 years of schooling by 2030. This will increase higher education participation from 17 to 30 percent and total employment to 24 million. It will also push the nation to set up an efficient and stronger Information Communications Technology (ICT) infrastructure.
The Plan recognizes that there are multiple challenges to be overcome as part of Vision fulfillment, of which the
two most critical, high priority and interrelated areas of concern are:
the quality of education.
Since creating jobs and livelihood opportunities and improving the quality of education and training are imperative for achieving social cohesion as well as economic growth, the nation is also dedicatedly focusing on its youth and children. After all it is the youth and children who are the future of the country. The goal of the Plan therefore is to:
Address the challenge of
unemployment. The Plan intends to
create11 million jobs by creating an environment for sustainable employment and inclusive economic growth and promoting employment in labor-absorbing industries.
Address the challenge of
poor education quality. The Plan aims to:
Ensure that early childhood education access rates exceed 90 percent;
Ensure quality school education, with globally competitive literacy and numeracy standards
Create an expanding higher education and training sector that that contributes towards rising incomes;
Ensure higher productivity and the shift to a more knowledge-intensive economy
Ensure a wider system of innovation that links key public institutions (universities and science councils) with South Africa's economic priorities.
The sections of society that will be touched by the above include:
children in and out of school,
youth, school dropouts/low scorers
existing youth in colleges, universities and tertiary institutes
out of work youth and older graduates
Given the current environment, that was replete with challenges on the one hand and the changes envisioned through the Plan on the other, the government of South Africa required a development partner who had the requisite ability and experience to not just advise and guide but also to innovate, implement and deliver.
To cater to the IT and IT-enabled learning requirements of school children, NIIT provides complete IT integration programs for schools both in the government as well as the private sector.
NIIT has partnered with various state governments as well as over 1n400 private schools across India, thereby making learning a pleasure for over a million students across more than 9,500 schools.
NIIT has understood the importance of IT and IT-enabled learning and is endeavoring to help schools enhance the effectiveness of education. This has formed the basis of the NIIT Nguru program, a movement that has revolutionized classroom teaching and learning and taken technology to the grass-root level. NIIT's programs for schools have been conceived and developed with a view to provide both 'Computer Education' and 'Computer-Aided Education', delivered on a turnkey basis.
In order to provide IT and IT-enabled education in its schools, the Department of Education (DOE) of South Africa's Free State province awarded a contract to Eagle Brothers for setting up and managing Math Labs. Eagle Brothers further outsourced the contract to NIIT.
Both companies were satisfied that there was sufficient value derived from the association to continue the relationship and signed the first contract with the Department of Education, Free State on
2011. The mandate was to establish 200 Math Labs in Primary and Intermediate schools across Free State.
Based on the success achieved in Phase I of the project, it was further extended to another 300 schools in 2012 (Phase 2). However, the Department has allotted only
250 schools till date. In the journey so far, NIIT has touched
335 schools in the Free State province and imparted training to
4,000 educators on its unique methodology of teaching math. It has also touched
400,000 young learners and will reach out to more with the following stated objectives:
Improvement in the academic performance of learners, thereby boosting their morale
Building of numeracy skills, analytical thinking and love for learning in children. Decreasing school absenteeism and drop-out rates
Teacher enablement in new teaching learning systems
Monitoring and Evaluation–Impact Study in Free State
NIIT conducted reinforcement sessions with educators and Mental Math Genius Tests for learners in 45 schools to assess the intervention of ICT-enabled Math Labs. NIIT covered 1,000 educators and 5,000 learners in this study.
In the 2013 Annual National Assessment Examinations, Free State Province stood first in Math Academic Performance out of all nine Provinces of South Africa.
First Math Lab in South Africa was Launched on January 27, 2012 by Premier Ace Magshule and presided over by the Minister of Education of Free State M. Taite and other dignitaries in Theha Setjhaba Primary School Sasolburg.
NIIT launched Math Lab in Nxuba SP School, Cradok, Eastern Cape to serve the under privileged community. The lab was inaugurated by HOD
E.G. Klaasen on May 22, 2012 in the presence of dignitaries.
NIIT established two Math Labs in Kwa Zulu Natal Province that were formally inaugurated by.
Senzo Mchunu, MEC Department of Education KZN along with wives of
Zulu king, Your Majesty Goodwill Zwelithini and other officials.
NIIT established a Math lab in Gauteng Province in the Khayelihle Primary School. It was formally inaugurated by Envy Surty, Deputy Minister, Department of Basic Education on October 9, 2013.