Speaking at a briefing held by the Meraka Institute and SAP Research Unit for Technology Development (UTD) yesterday, education minister Naledi Pandor, Johannesburg, explained the primary concern for government is to increase the ICT skills pool. 'We can't allow SA to produce 20 PHDs a year; it's just not good enough.' She pointed to the efforts of SA's technology counterpart, India, which produces around 300 ICT higher graduates a year. She explained that India focused its attention on becoming an ICT economy and encouraged students to maintain their studies. 'I think we have a challenge in SA on the human capital side. It's a scarce skill that we can no longer afford to be comfortable about,' she added. The minister explained that government is trying to address the matter from the tertiary education level, by focusing on maths and science.
Pandor also acknowledged the research being conducted by the Meraka-SAP UTD, which has used mobile technology to educate teachers. The programme, which started in the North West Province, uses mobile education modules that train teachers in the benefits of using technologies in the classroom. According to Darelle van Greunen, of the UTD and a lecturer at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University and research director on the project, while the research on the results of the pilot project is still under way, the initial reports show teachers benefited from the experience. The minister also congratulated other projects being conducted by the research collaboration, which has focused its research on the creation of ICT for the development of small and micro businesses.