The private sector needs to partner with government in providing digital technologies to schools in a bid improve the standard of education countrywide.

This according to Jamie Martin, founder and Chief Executive Officer of Injini, EdTech Incubator, an organization aimed at empowering teachers, entrepreneurs and individual citizens across the Africa to improve education through technology. He said it was imperative for government and business to collaborate to improve the quality of education.

“Education will be the great engine of Africa's future development. It is therefore important to empower teachers, entrepreneurs and individual citizens to improve education through technology in order to realise the huge potential for richer economies and stronger societies across the continent.”

 “If we are serious about rising standards, about extending opportunities and particularly serious about doing it for the poor and valuable people who need it the most to do things differently, we have to take advantage of the spirit of the entrepreneurship and innovation that is so rich in the country,” said Martin.

Martin was among the stakeholders who included academics, business and government participating in the National Advisory council on Innovation (NACI) provincial roadshow in Cape Town today (16 October).

NACI hosted the workshop following the release of the latest Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) Indicators report. The recently released in Pretoria, has identified areas of progress, as well as gaps in key sectors of the economy, such as education, mining and manufacturing.

According to the STI report, the percentage of matric learners who passed mathematics and physical science with at least 50% remains low. The proportion of matric female learners passing mathematics and physics with at least 60% has been declining from 2008 to 2016. Unsurprisingly then, the undergraduate percentage SET enrolment has remained stagnant between 2005 (29.4%) and 2015 (29.7%).  Notwithstanding, at the postgraduate level, the proportion of science engineering and technology (SET) enrolment as percentage of total student enrolments has increased between 2005 and 2015.

Chief Economist and council member, Dr Azar Jammine, shared the outcomes and implications of the report with stakeholders.

Dr Jammine said that South Africa should seize the opportunities and benefits of digitization and the fourth industrial revolution or new production revolution to improve the standard of education.

With the report, showing that the number of internet users per 100 people increasing, Dr Jammine said digital technology could help improve the country’s education system.

The international benchmarking of mobile cellular subscriptions indicates that South Africa is doing well in diffusing ICT access through mobile cellular devices per 100 people. Compared to other regions of the world the country had a large number of mobile cellular subscription per 100 people as far back as the period of 1996-2000.

NACI also demonstrated the newly launched the National STI portal that will serve as a credible central repository for innovation-related data. The portal brings all relevant STI data and information together into a single repository, giving stakeholders a central point of access to the information in the NSI.