CIO Banquet 2017: Keynote Address Part 2 – Education

This year’s ITWeb & Brainstorm CIO Banquet featured the release of the 2017 CIO survey results at a prestigious gathering of top leaders in South Africa’s IT industry. I was privileged to present a keynote message in which I covered the role of business, government and education in the sector. I also touched on cyber-security, the importance of a city-level response to disruptive technology and the role of leaders through the empowering of cross-functional teams in the workplace.

Our tertiary pipeline produces high quality graduates with excellent problem solving skills and good business acumen but do we need to supplement these with informal, disruptive models such as codex, wethinkcode and other similar coding schools and academies that widens accessibility and improves affordability. Wits is already looking at such programmes as part of its Tshimologong initiative in Braamfontein led by Prof Dwolatzky and which last week announced a significant partnership with BCX to create a new innovation centre and further drive growth in the precinct.

the future of IT education in Africa has to be digital

Last year’s World Economic Forum in Rwanda recognised that the future of IT education in Africa has to be digital – massive online open courses are already meeting this demand, but do we have the infrastructure and distributed, rurally accessible and connected learning environments to make it work and close the ever widening skills gap?

the next Mark Zuckerburg could come from Diepsloot

Starting even earlier than the tertiary or even high school environment are a plethora of new school-level technology curricula and youth coding programmes. Platforms like kids-who-code and code-for-change give kids early access to the self-taught logic and structured thinking that can channel them into a career in IT. The more we make these academies and curricula accessible and affordable, the more we increase the chance that the next Mark Zuckerburg could come from Diepsloot or Khayelitsha.

leave a legacy to the next generation, of being problem solving visionaries and digital creators

Core subjects like maths and science need ongoing focus and ever increasing standards of teaching and examination, we already know that the jobs of the future will still require these skills and yet we seem woefully ill-prepared to ensure that the vast majority of our children can adapt into roles that don’t even exist today. With a 27% unemployment rate and an estimated 40% of work activities in South Africa that are susceptible to automation, we as IT leaders in this room tonight should enjoy our party together but wake up tomorrow with an urgency around fixing our education system and particularly ensuring that we leave a legacy to the next generation, not of being device obsessed, digital consumers but rather, problem solving visionaries and digital creators.”

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