Experiences of educators in teaching computer literacy in grade nine in four rural areas of Greytown.
Xhakaza, Nozipho Rejoice.
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The South African education system is undergoing radical transformation in terms of the curriculum. One of the means in the transformation process is the infusion of computer literacy in the schools’ curriculum. The South African education system is being reshaped and this calls for co-ordination between the school and the workplace, as learners who are taught in schools are going to occupy different positions in different work situations. The school’s task is therefore to equip learners with relevant computer literacy skills required in the workplace. The National Curriculum Statement (NCS) states: “Learners should understand the design process from conceptualisation to realisation. Problem-solving and lateral-thinking skills, creativity and innovation should be explored and developed through the systematic investigation of problems posed by a design brief in order to produce a marketable solution. Learners are given a brief, research the subject, generate ideas, develop concepts, implement, critically reflect on, and then evaluate the design solution. Self-discipline and responsible design ethics, as well as an awareness of aesthetics and functionality, must be evident throughout the design process,” (Asmal, 2003, p. 3). In countries like the United Kingdom, computer literacy is very important in that it is seen as a passport to employment (Bork, as cited by Moodley, 2002). The government of Rwanda’s national goal on ICT is that Rwanda will achieve “middle-income status by 2020 based on an information-rich, knowledge-based society and economy” Farrel (2007, p. 3). Micheuz (2006, p. 1) states: “Schools in Austria providing compulsory education are accountable for imparting IT skills and informatics competencies to their pupils”. There is a shift in the South African education system to eradicate the imbalances of the apartheid education system. Curriculum 2005 has been put in place, however due to some uncertainties that academics have articulated about Curriculum 2005, it has been revised. The principles of the NCS are the same as those of Curriculum 2005 in that they are based on building on the vision and values of the Constitution and Curriculum 2005 (Asmal, 2003, p. 2). The principles include social justice, a healthy environment, human rights and inclusivity (Asmal, 2003, p. 2). The NCS adopts an inclusive approach by specifying minimum requirements for learners. The special educational, emotional, social and physical needs of learners are addressed in the design and the development of appropriate learning programmes. The transition from the apartheid education system to the present education system, i.e. the NCS, has not been without problems. Debates on educational issues are always arguable because they involve many other stakeholders such as politicians and the community (Asmal, 2003). In the past, South African education reflected the fragmented society in which it was based and hardly created conscientious, critical citizens. Education as a means of undemocratic social control created individuals who were not only short changed but were also compartmentalized along racial and cultural lines. The education system also failed to address the democratic principles based on access, full participation and equity (Asmal, 2003). The objectives of the policy on E-education in the schools’ white paper on Eeducation are that every South African learner both in General and Further Education and Training (GET and FET) will be information and communication technology-capable by 2013. Asmal went on to say that every school in General and Further Education and Training will turn into E-schools (Asmal, 2003, p. 4). The GET band here refers to Grades 7, 8 and 9 and the FET refers to Grades 10, 11, and 12. With this as background, the researcher intended to understand whether or not the teaching and learning of computer literacy occurred in a constructive way, and one that will equip learners with relevant computer literacy skills required in the workplace; skills that will enable learners to solve economic, political and societal problems. Meyer, Barber and Pfaffenberger (1999, p. 56) argue that: “Computers play key roles in our societies as they guide aircraft to safe landings, help surgeons perform tricky operations and route calls through a phone system”. The research took place in two high schools in rural areas in the Greytown area. The two high schools have computers and are teaching computer literacy starting from Grade 8 and continuing to Grade 12. This study focused on Grade Nine as this grade is considered to be a preparatory stage when learners need to be shaped for the next grade (Grade 10) and begin to choose their career paths.