ACDP MP says it is perhaps time to take a leap into online education

Subject for discussion: The provision of quality education, skills development and innovation is a fundamental tenet for the attainment of a developmental state
Speech by Cheryllyn Dudley, MP and Whip
 

  • notes the University of the Free State now offers 100% online Advanced Certificates in Teaching and English

The term 'Developmental State', is used to refer to a situation where state-led macroeconomic planning exists. It is a model of capitalism where the state has more control over the economy through strong state intervention, as well as extensive regulation and planning.

Interestingly while many in South Africa state with conviction that they do not want State intervention and control, ‘we the people’ on mass and across parties continue to call on government to intervene and take control of every aspect of our lives, expecting government to do so and blaming it continually for what is seen as a dereliction of duty if it does not.

In this way I see a Developmental State as being what people are demanding while insisting they do not want it.

The provision of quality education, skills development and innovation is of course a fundamental tenet for the attainment of a developmental state and whether we want a Developmental State or not - we all want quality education and skills development.  South Africa already allocates a higher proportion of its budget toward education than the US, UK and Germany yet we seem unable to catch up with demands and the problems continue to escalate.

The recommendations by an independent commission set up by President Jacob Zuma and chaired by Justice Jonathan Heher now released, makes recommendations on funding alternatives, which are unlikely to satisfy everyone or solve all problems.  This means additional creative solutions are a necessity.  The suggestion for primary and high school education that we embrace current digital revolution technologies for wide scale online learning - for example.  This would necessitate classrooms being replaced by larger, cheaper ‘warehouse’ structures erected close to rural and urban settlements for easy access and giving each student a laptop, broadband connectivity and data packages. The ‘schools’ would be staffed by ‘education managers’ trained in managing students’ discipline, motivational techniques and providing logistical help. The actual lessons would be pre-recorded with translation into any of the eleven official languages possible.

The online model frees the system from the need to produce vast numbers of quality maths and science teachers and focuses on producing education managers instead. Although the initial set up is costly, the running costs are much lower and more efficient than classrooms.  All that is needed is free access to internet via the phone.

The ACDP notes that the University of the Free State (UFS) now offers 100% online Advanced Certificates in Teaching and English.  To quote Professor Daniella Coetzee-Manning:

“Our inadequate education system is producing students who are completely unequipped to deal with the complexities of quantitative analytics, which together with qualitative communication is said by the World Economic Forum to be the two skill-sets essential for survival in our post Fourth Industrial Revolution world.”

This concept also frees universities to be run primarily as centres of research, with the education they provide cheaply distributed online. It is envisaged that if leading academics spent more time researching, patenting and commercialising ideas on behalf of universities, the same universities could become more self-supporting and more useful to society as a whole.

Perhaps it is time for our education system to take a leap into a brave new educational world of large scale online education that can provide quality, skills development and innovation as a fundamental tenet giving our youth the chances they deserve in the attainment of a developmental state.