It can be difficult for educators to remain motivated in the current age. The world is transitioning into the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and with this comes the tension between teaching what is advised in the national curriculum, and feeling compelled to introduce learners to the digital future.
Educators from across the Middle East and Africa region agree that the integration of technology into set work can make the teaching experience easier and more interactive, however, infrastructural and socio-economic challenges continue to hinder this process.
Similarly, these teachers believe that current education curricula across the region do not make provision for Information and Communication Technology (ICT)-related teachings.
Studies around the world predict a future where new jobs will almost certainly contain something related to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). Today, technology jobs make up 50% of the workforce. This number will grow to 77% in the next decade.
As part of Microsoft’s Computer Science Education Week efforts to promote the importance of coding and technology in education, we spoke to a few teachers from across the Middle East and Africa region to uncover some of the challenges they experience:
Phuti Ragophala, former principal of Pula Madibogo Primary School in South Africa, says the country’s school curriculum is still far from preparing learners for careers of the future. “It speaks very little to nothing about coding, web design, programming or technology engineering. There is no free Wi-Fi in schools, let alone using a laptop as a teacher or as learners. We still have many teachers and learners with zero knowledge of basic computing skills.”
Wejdan Mihi, English Teacher at Marran Elementary and Intermediate School in Saudi Arabia says, “Students need technical discipline, teamwork competencies, communication skills, leadership skills, problem-solving competencies and managerial abilities. Our curriculum should, therefore, be expanded to include coding subjects and technology classes, because these subjects train learners on those competencies – which all employers expect graduates of today to have.”
Taking upon themselves
To demonstrate the impact of computer science on future job prospects and economic growth, teachers throughout the Middle East and Africa have begun integrating technology into their everyday teaching methods. These assist learners in gaining a basic understanding of what the digital future holds and brings computer science education to students in the absence of adequate provision being made in national curricula.
Ilker Göler, Information Technology and Software Teacher at Tekirdag AKA College in Turkey, says: “The national curriculum in Turkey for the Information Technology branch is out of date, and I believe it doesn’t add much value to the students. That is why I make my curriculum flexible and in line with today’s technologies. For example, I teach coding, robotics, 3D Design, etc.”
Charmaine Roynon of Edupaths SA in South Africa says: “I work with teachers in many schools across SA to empower them to instil collaboration, skilled communication, Information and Communication Technology use, innovation, self-regulation and other skills in their learners. Sadly, many teachers still use the ‘talk and chalk’ way of teaching, and do not understand the pedagogy of relevant and deep learning. Professional development around problem-based learning and integration of Information and Communication Technology is necessary because it will empower teachers to [train their students in those skills].”
Israeli private school Beta School, teaches coding to kids from the fourth grade. According to Karina Batat, ICT Coordinator and Instructor at the school, “We work collaboratively with Office 365, which allows our learners to express themselves and communicate via Skype around the world. We also use Minecraft and MakeCode to offer the kids experience, creativity and help them prepare for life after school through critical thinking and problem-solving.”
Paula Barnard-Ashton, Lecturer at the School of Therapeutic Science in South Africa uses Sway for student projects, OneNote for work-based learning portfolios and postgraduate course collaboration tasks, Flipgrid and Teams for professional development groups and staff administration groups.
Click here to see how Microsoft makes teaching tools more applicable to students.