SA students shun maths and science degrees

Professor Irma Eloff, dean of education at the University of Pretoria, says that universities needed to bolster enrollments for maths and science degrees, according to a report in the Times.

The matric class of 2013 celebrated a pass rate of 78.2%, up from 73.9 % in 2012 – although many questioned whether the quality of the paper and the pass rate, at 30%, were sufficient.

 

Education-maths

The number of maths passes in 2013 increased to 142,666 from 121,970 in 2012, while physical science passes improved to 124,206, from 109,918 in 2012.

The Times noted that, of the 142,666 matric pupils who wrote maths, only 15.6%, or 22,255 scored 60%.

“In maths, science and African languages, we still need to increase numbers substantially,” Eloff said.

Adcorp labour market economist Loane Sharp told the Times that universities were not producing enough engineers, doctors and scientists, as these degrees required a minimum of 60% for maths.

The Times said that a bachelor of education degree proved to be the most popular degree among students enrolling at tertiary institutions in 2014, as confirmed by eight universities.

“They are producing huge numbers [of graduates] in arts and social sciences, which are not needed in the workplace.”

 

Thanks to Businesstech for this article.

Bleak jobs outlook for matric class of 2013

Youth strongly encouraged to study further.

A TOUGH job market awaits the matric class of 2013 in the Eastern Cape against the backdrop of poor economic growth in the country.

Economist at Efficient Group, Merina Willemse, said the Employment Incentive Act (dubbed the youth wage subsidy) which came into effect on January 1, would not make a dent in employment in a weak economic environment.

 

Jobs pic

Analyst Dr Somadoda Fikeni said matriculants wanting to join the job-seekers pool were in for a “shocking disappointment” in the face of a national economy that has shown weak growth of 0.7%, according to the latest measurement released by Statistics South Africa (StatsSA) in November.

This is the weakest economic growth since the recession in 2008-2009 and is said to have been fuelled by strikes in the automotive sector.

Fikeni said the impact of a weak economy would be more severe in the Eastern Cape, a province which has consistently had the second highest unemployment rates in the country in the past year, after only the Free State.

“The prospects of finding employment are defined by a generally poor economic ability to absorb those wishing for entry in the labour market.

“This is more acute in the Eastern Cape, where unemployment has always been high.

“Young people who leave school hoping to find a job are in for a shocking disappointment.

“The situation raises the question of whether we ought to focus on employment or should government, civil society and business encourage the start of small businesses for those people,” said Fikeni.

According to StatsSA, approximately 3.3 million of the 10.4 million between 15 to 24 years were not in employment, education or training in the third quarter of last year.

In the Eastern Cape, the youth unemployment rate is around 41% – but it shoots up to 72% when taking into account those who are neither employed nor actively seeking jobs.

While the matric class of 2013 celebrates what is said to be the highest pass rate in democratic South Africa, Willemse said the country’s weak economic growth does not bode well for employment.

“It’s a very difficult [labour] market for matriculants to come into.

“The unemployment rate was generally high to begin, but more so among the youth,” said Willemse.

The latest economic growth rate for the third quarter of 2013 came in at 0.7% from 3.2% in the previous quarter.

Department of economic development, environmental affairs and tourism (Dedeat) communication manager Sixolile Makaula conceded that the job market was tough for the youth, but said they should study beyond matric to better their chances of finding a job.

“The unemployment rate for a person in the Eastern Cape who has completed matric is 32% in comparison to 46% for lower levels of education and just 10% for post-matric qualifications,” said Makaula.

 

Thanks to Dispatch for this article.

Disruption and the mobile mind shift: welcome to the age of the customer

George Colony, Chairman of the Board & CEO, Forrester Research

 

“Empowered customers are disrupting every industry, ushering in a 20-year business cycle Forrester calls ‘the age of the customer’,” Forrester CEO George Colony told the LeWeb audience in Paris.

According to Colony, this 20-year business cycle will see “successful businesses will reinvent themselves to systematically understand and serve increasingly powerful customers”.

Companies will have to substantially increase investment in mobile, big data, great customer experience, and disruptive business models to win and retain customers.

He reckons that the average customer is more informed and more empowered than ever before and companies need to adapt to that.

Though companies may argue that they have always been “customer-centric,” this is different, says Colony. It is not about “customer-centric” thinking or “the customer is always right.” This is about the new power of customers, which means that a focus on the customer now matters more than any other strategic imperative.

Pricing, sharing and everywhere

Colony says that because the new customer is better informed, they can share critiques — the power of the web and social. Now everything can be shared about a customer’s experience within seconds of that experience.

The new customer can buy from anyone and anywhere with around 22% of European ordering products of sites based outside of their own countries. The new customer also finds the best and accurate prices for a product.

He also notes some major difference between generations Y and X.

Compared to Gen X, Gen Y: watches 21% less TV, listens to 27% less radio, plays 319% more video games spends, 24% more time on the internet and spend 158% less time on newspapers. He says that Gen Z will bring more changes to the table as well.

The mobile mind shift

“Your customers expect any information or service they desire be available to them on any device, in context, at their moment of need,” says Colony.

The mobile mind shift is not on its way, it’s happening. He argues that in the future companies must put themselves into the pockets of their customers in order to get their attention and deliver great service. For Colony, we are headed to an age where the web will become the AM radio of the internet, available but not the primary service, he reckons the majority of businesses will engage customers via their mobile devices.

Though we are still a while from that he reckons we are coming along nicely. However it seems Windows Phone users are trailing behind when it comes to this mobile mind shift, with iPhone users already there. He notes that Asia-Pacific regions have the most mind-shifted customers.

The Forrester boss plays out the scenario where he can pay for his taxi ride via his phone as well tip the driver. His phone can tell him which airport terminal and gate he needs to catch his flight and show him his seat and offer him his favourite drink. The same device can then tell the elevator which floor to go to when he arrives at his hotel, as well as opened his hotel door for him.

Colony posses a question of how? Easy it seems, mix sensor information from your device, with social recommendations, to interaction with other smart products. It’s a case of becoming systems of record with customer information which will become systems of engagement. Companies need to provide real-time services or predictive services. He reckons that with geo-location and payment services that can feed into a big customer data repository, this can be done.

Why do it? To make money of course. After all, in the “future all companies will be software companies”

 

Thanks to Memeburn for this great article.

Hour of Code Offers Coding Tutorials from Bill Gates, Zuckerberg, Etc

In advance of Computer Science Education Week, which kicks off on Monday, Code.org has brought together some of the biggest names in the tech industry to teach everyone to code. All it takes is an hour to start learning.

 

 

The tutorials cover most of the popular scripting languages. There’s one from Mark Zuckerberg and Angry Birds, an intro to JavaScript from Khan Academy, Python basics from Grok Learning, several “make a mobile app in an hour” tutorials, and more. You can start playing with the tutorials now, but more of them are still being added, and next week is when would-be coders of all ages are encouraged to spend a week or just an hour learning new skills.P

Besides Gates and Zuckerberg, most of the major tech companies (e.g., Amazon, Microsoft, LinkedIn, Dropbox, Apple, Yahoo) are backing this endeavor—and trying to correct the fact that 9 out of 10 US schools don’t even teach programming. P

Sign up and commit to just one hour at the link below or forward it to anyone who might want to explore computer science.

Thanks for Code.org for this contribution.

South Africa ranked among the world’s top five emerging nations with highest levels of access to web

Kenya is an ‘overachiever’ with regard to using the internet while South Africa is ranked among the world’s top five emerging nations with the highest levels of access to the web.

This is according to the Web Index 2013, which has been conducted by the World Wide Web Foundation and measures the web’s growth, utility and impact on people and nations.

 

Key global findings of the report include that Sweden and Norway are the world’s two top performing countries overall in this year’s web index, as almost 95% of people in these countries are online.

Meanwhile, the report says that in Africa, fewer than one in five people are using the internet.

Between 50% and 70% of Africans say high costs are the main reason why they are not online, according to the index.

But despite the gloomy picture for Africa, the report does highlight a few shining African examples.

Kenya, for example, ranks 53rd overall on the index, and is the fourth highest ranked African nation behind South Africa at 35, Mauritius at 40 and Tunisia at 44.

More specifically, Kenya ranks 63rd in terms of universal access, 57th regarding freedom and openness, 55 for relevant content and at 36 for empowerment.

And as Kenya is a low-income country according to the World Bank, the World Wide Web foundation has labeled the East African nation as an “overachiever” in terms of its status in the index.

Kenya’s income rank on the index is 68 while its web index rank is 53, meaning that the difference is 15 places between the two.

“On this year’s Index, the biggest overachievers, achieving a web index rank at least 14 places ahead of their rank by per capita income, included the Philippines, New Zealand, Colombia, Korea, Kenya, the UK and Estonia,” says the report.

“The Philippines was the developing country that achieved the highest overall ranking in the Web Index 2013, followed by Indonesia, Kenya, Morocco and Ghana,” the report also explains.

Meanwhile, South Africa, which is described as a middle income country by the World Bank, has been ranked among the top five emerging market nations on the index.

In this category, Mexico achieved the highest overall position in the Web Index 2013 at 30, followed by Colombia at 32, Brazil at 33, Costa Rica at 34 and South Africa at 35.

More specifically, South Africa scored 34 in terms of universal access, 20 for freedom and openness, 48 for relevant content and 37 for empowerment.

But the report does highlight concerns regarding South Africa’s efforts, or rather lack thereof, to further boost web access.

“South Africa’s database of school infrastructure needs, covering almost 25,000 public schools and designed to be regularly updated, reveals issues of serious concern,” says the report.

“For example, 68% of schools do not have any computers and almost 80% do not have libraries,” the report adds.

Africa’s second largest economy Nigeria has an overall ranking of 67 on the index.

Other global findings of the report has also highlighted that internet spying and blocking are on the rise worldwide.

Almost one in three countries worldwide block politically sensitive web content to a moderate or severe extent while just five countries have met best practice standards for checks and balances on government interception of electronic communications, the report says.

“Provisions against cybercrime, terrorism, or blasphemy are frequently being employed to silence legitimate dissent or justifying blanket digital surveillance,” says the report.

World Wide Web founder Sir Tim Berners-Lee last year introduced the inaugural index.

Berners-Lee is a member of the Web Index Science Council that provides advice in the construction and analysis of the Web Index.

-Thanks to ITWeb Africa for this great contribution

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Anatomy of top performing CEOs

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IMG-20131113-WA000

Universities blamed for poor tech teachers

Academics are sceptical regarding a ministerial report that found all the country’s universities are largely to blame for poor teaching of maths, physics and technology in schools, reports The Sunday Independent.

A task team appointed by basic education minister Angie Motshekga in February, has reportedly found that “inadequate pedagogical training” at universities is one of the leading reasons for “serious shortage of competent, qualified, mathematics, science and especially technology-subject teachers”. Teaching qualifications are supposedly also viewed as inadequate, with all qualifications found to be “poor, with some worse than others”.

 

A task team appointed by basic education minister Angie Motshekga has reportedly found that inadequate training at universities is one of the leading reasons for poor tech teachers.

A task team appointed by basic education minister Angie Motshekga has reportedly found that inadequate training at universities is one of the leading reasons for poor tech teachers.

Three maths-education professors from the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) apparently responded to the education report to The Sunday Independent, saying the blanket-blame of universities obscures differences in programmes both within and across higher education institutions.

Jill Adler, Hamsa Venkat and Margot Berger are quoted as saying a “more nuanced approach” to these issues would have been helpful, as they agree that the problems exist and need to be addressed.

Josef de Beer, associate professor of science education at the University of Johannesburg, is also quoted by the newspaper as saying that to state that all teaching qualifications are poor, is a sweeping statement.

“I am curious to know what research methodology was followed. Was an in-depth audit, and interviews with lecturers and students done at all higher institutions? My concern is that unsubstantiated statements are made in the report.”

The newspaper says that the Department of Basic Education did not respond to e-mailed questions and instead referred it to a statement Motshekga had already released on the task team’s report.

Article originally taken from IT Web

 

Why Study IT – Your short FAQ Guide

CT receives smart city report

An IBM design team this morning presented its recommendations to the Cape Town city council. This comes after Cape Town was chosen as the World Design Capital (WDC) for 2014.

wdc capetown

A major global city is chosen every two years to be the WDC capital and receive the IBM Smart City grant. The previous WDC was Helsinki, Finland. In essence, Cape Town gets to choose a problem that it would like addressed and a world-class team works on it for three weeks to come up with solutions that will bring Cape Town closer to smart city status.

According to De Lille, the needs of Cape Town’s communities change frequently, which gives rise to the question of whether the city’s social assets actually cater for the communities’ needs.

Sherry_Comes

Sherry Comes, chief technology officer at IBM, was also one of the speakers at this year’s GovTech conference.

 

Optimising Service Delivery

Sherry Comes, chief technology officer at IBM and one of the six members of the team working on Cape Town’s design model, says the purpose of the WDC project is to turn global cities across the world into smarter cities. “IBM invests to work with the city to address the challenges they experience in a smart way in an effort to optimise service delivery.”

She explains that a more holistic approach is taken to the problems experienced in Cape Town and the team suggests ways in which the challenges can be approached, rather than suggesting the implementation of specific smart solutions. She says the team intentionally does not suggest IBM smart solutions as that is not the purpose of the project.

Recommendations in the Cape Town design model include how the city can use data optimally, apply change management, manage its social assets better and apply design thinking, she says. It is then up to the city to implement the recommendations or not, although IBM keeps communicating with the city council to provide advice along the way. The project comes at no cost to Cape Town and it is under no obligation to do business with IBM afterwards.

Comes says the report presented to the council this morning includes approximately 60 recommendations with additional sub-recommendations. “We conducted about 50 interviews and interviewed over 70 people. We toured the city and the informal settlements, found out what is working and what is not working, and spoke to the city council, officials, politicians and executives.”

She says the design team already met with De Lille last night to give an overview of the report and the feedback has been very positive. “She just sat at that table with us for hours asking questions. She is a smart, smart lady.”

Comes notes that having Cape Town as the WDC for 2014, is likely to put the spotlight on smart cities in Africa and allow the recommendations implemented in the Mother City to spill over to other cities in SA and Africa.

ibm

Article originally take from IT Web