During an event held by the Thabo Mbeki Foundation (TMF) in 2018 in partnership with Heavy Chef, former President Mbeki stressed the importance of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) for the African context, and expressed concern about whether South Africans in general, and educators in particular, are adequately prepared to respond to the challenges of the 4IR. In response to Mbeki’s call, the TMF formed a multi-stakeholder Working Group (WG) comprising of academics, educators, policymakers, civil society and thought-leaders to tackle the complex question of what practical steps South Africa, and Africa in general, needs to take to build a foundation for a successful transition into the 4IR.
The TMF contracted In On Africa to lead the comprehensive research assessment and analytical work of the WG, and provide support throughout the project on the planning, managing, implementing, assessing and reporting. Through extensive consultation with the WG, experts in the education space, and a wide range of sources, it has become clear that South Africa (as well as other African countries) is not currently equipped to join the 4IR. This is for a number of reasons, including a lack of basic and technical infrastructure, poorly trained teachers, curricula that are no longer relevant, and education stakeholders not collaborating effectively.