The Fourth Industrial Revolution Adoption: Challenges in South African Higher Education Institutions
Stellah Lubinga
University of Pretoria
Tafadzwa Clementine Maramura
University of the Free State
Tyanai Masiya
University of Pretoria, South Africa
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Fourth Industrial Revolution
higher education institutions
digital skills gap

How to Cite

Lubinga, S., Maramura, T., & Masiya, T. (2023). The Fourth Industrial Revolution Adoption: Challenges in South African Higher Education Institutions. Journal of Culture and Values in Education, 6(2), 1-17.


The fourth industrial revolution (4IR) adoption in South Africa in higher education institutions (HEIs) has yet to be consistent. Despite the extensive literature on the possible contributions of technology to learners’ development, there is a lack of knowledge on barriers to the higher education sector's adoption of the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) to support teaching and learning. The most highly ranked universities in South Africa have somewhat embraced the 4IR, representing only a fraction of the 26 public universities in the country. The study identified factors hindering the adoption and diffusion of 4IR technologies in South Africa’s HEIs. To address this knowledge gap, we relied on the diffusion of innovation theory as a guide. Using a qualitative approach, we collected data using documentary reviews and analyses of authoritative sources to conceptualise and contextualise 4IR. The findings revealed that 4IR adoption is not only about perceptions but is also influenced by material obstacles like conflicting global views on the 4IR, complexity in conceptualising 4IR, and the digital skills gap in HEIs, among other factors. To address these obstacles and realise the value of 4IR in HEIs, institutions must understand the educational scope associated with 4IR. This can be achieved by conducting more empirical research on the implications of 4IR on the education sector. To address the digital skills gap, institutions must design detailed skills plans to respond to their respective institutions' technological needs, redesign their pedagogical approaches by extending current practices to 4IR, and implement change management.

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