Tag Archives: education

University student unrest, unruly protests, untenable demands – forget academia and learn the necessary skills for the future

What students don’t seem to realise is that the militant fight for space and place in tertiary institutions may not give them the imaged experience, satisfaction nor get them the degrees and jobs they dream of – it is an illusory quest.

Although one might not sympathise with these students, one has to acknowledge their plight. In South Africa they find themselves in a society where education and training has been sacrificed at the altar of politicians’ greed. South Africans have been robbed blind by this kleptocracy. There is no money left for education or anything else.

However, instead of focusing on the negative stats and figures, I’d like to suggest that the youth and educators change their somewhat outmoded, irrational mindset and try a new approach to preparing for the world of work and job finding. We don’t even know what jobs there’ll be on offer in five years’ time, so we can’t say ‘what’ they should learn, but we can develop skills of ‘how’ to think and work.

I want to point to the outcome of the World Economic Forum’s research. It surveyed 350 executives in 15 of the world’s biggest economies to identify the top soft skills needed for the workforce of tomorrow. The result was the WEF official top 10 list of soft skills for 2019. And Forbes says by 2020 every company will be looking for people with these skills:

1. Cognitive flexibility
2. Negotiation
3. Service orientation
4. Judgment and decision-making
5. Emotional intelligence
6. Coordinating with others
7. People management
8. Creativity
9. Critical thinking
10. Complex problem solving.

By the way, I loathe the term ‘soft skills’ because I know from experience that these are the core skills needed to carry out all workplace tasks. So, even if we can’t forecast the ‘what’ of future work at least we know the ‘how’ – using skills that can be applied, transferred and implemented in every job, no matter what you do.

So students, think again, look ahead and decide what will really be of more use to you in your quest for meaningful work. Look for training opportunities that give you what you – and our country – really need.

As we draw near to Youth Day on 16 June and remember the student riots, we need to remind ourselves what they were putting their lives on the line for.

We know what drove those students in 1976 to protest. The evidence is clear – Bantu education was appalling, especially when compared to that of whites. Students had to use a foreign language in their studies. Learning and teaching facilities were poor, conditions in the townships were not conducive to learning and teaching. Students were fighting for education and a better life.

While we acknowledge the changes that have taken place politically, economically, technologically and socially since then, we need to start real conversations about real and relevant education. What those students were fighting for may not be what we see and experience today. What type of education do South Africans want? What does the #feesmustfall Campaign envision for education today?

For the past 20 years we’ve been trying to ‘improve education’ in South Africa. Billions of rands have been spent. Many changes, many methods, many structures, many experts have been used, and yet every year we question our education system and make promises and plans to improve it – to no avail. We have SETAs and SAQA setting the standards, we have government promising to produce thousands of artisans annually, we have private ‘educational’ companies and institutions making millions from people desperate to get certificates, we have ‘free’ access to education, and yet we have not managed to educate the youth of this country nor prepare them for the world of work that is constantly changing. Not to mention the number of ‘degreed’ individuals without work – thrown into the world of ‘worklessness’. Clearly there’s a problem.

Education needs a revolution

Education needs a revolution 

So it’s time we take note of Thomas A. Edison’s words:
I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.

Let’s learn from our mistakes and proceed with a strategic plan toward a more favourable outcome?

We must start asking meaningful questions about education if we are to truly address the problems that the very concept and its interpretation cause. Starting with:
What is education? What is its purpose? What is it used for? Do people really want to be educated? What does it mean to be educated? Is education still relevant in a global information society where anyone can access any information that they find useful? And jobs are evolving at such a rate the educators don’t even know they exist, so how can they prepare students?

Some see education merely as a piece of paper for a job-seeker; others see it as a process of developing one’s thinking and leadership qualities; yet others see it as needless rote learning of useless information only to regurgitate it in exams. Nevertheless, the honest responses to authentic probing into education would at least give us as a society a fair idea of what we’re dealing with before we set off on yet another detour. Let’s put our heads together and start that conversation today.

Let's talk about successful education

Let’s talk about successful education

There needs to be another education revolutionthis time in our thinking – for successful solutions to the problem of education in this country.

NGOs a site for PR skills development

Earlier this month a jubilant Department of Education announced the 78% pass rate for the 2013 Matriculants. But hot on the heels of the release came questions, criticisms and expressions of concern regarding the lack of jobs, the skills deficit, and the relevance of a university degree when there was dire need for artisans (who actually earn more than graduates). We all know the problems but what about solutions?

On 9 January Rowan Philp wrote a piece in The Witness entitled “Volunteer or Bust!”
http://www.witness.co.za/index.php?showcontent&global[_id]=112563

What caught my attention were the following:

• pupils had “fixed and unrealistic ideas” about jobs
• “Young people have to change their mind-set from ‘What can I get from employers?’, to ‘What can I give to employers?’ They should draw up a list of all the employed adults they know – and ask to work-shadow, intern, or just volunteer.”
• gain on-the-job experience, even if it meant no pay.
• there was “increasing concern” over viable careers for matrics.
• the country needed artisans and entrepreneurs.

The matric results have focused the nation’s attention on the desperate need to address the problems of unemployment and skills shortage. For me, the NGO environment is an ideal one for developing volunteers into skilled workers and entrepreneurs over a wide range of activities while building the capacity of communities. I have been involved in CESL (Community engagement with Student Learning) projects and seen the positive impact on young people working with NGOs.

There are so many NGOs with uplifting projects needing staff and funding. In conversation with Michael Deegan, CEO of the PMB Community Chest, he mentioned the need for NGOs to think of new ways of doing things, and to rework their corporate identity, image and communication strategies to create more awareness and draw more donors, corporate sponsors and volunteers.

Clearly the new audience is the youth and so NGOs and charities need to change the perception that charity and community work is only for the older generation. Already the Community Chest has a programme directed at the youth called the “@Generation” to address this. Having young volunteers working in NGOs would go a long way to improve their understanding and perceptions of ‘charity’ work.

NGOs are multi-dimensional too in that they operate on so many levels and with so many stakeholders – from government departments, communities, business, international donors and aid organisations to local educators, women’s groups, healthcare givers and of course the media. Volunteers would leave with a range of skills, abilities and interests to offer the world of business.

So here’s my suggestion for a possible solution:

Volunteerism as “giving to grow” – NGOs, Business and the Community can do it together

We need to develop a volunteer programme whereby unemployed matriculants go into NGOs to work and to train.
The types of skills they would learn is wide-ranging, from office admin, computer, financial and business to project management, government relations and funding policies, procedures and proposals.

However, my sphere of interest and expertise is corporate communication and public relations, so I will focus on NGOs and their dire need of strategic planning in this area. They are also perfect sites for potential learning and development of specific communication and PR skills, techniques and activities which are vital for their existence.
These include: Branding, copy writing, publicity, interpersonal communication skills, CSI – corporate social investment, community relations, media relations, sponsorship, integrated marketing, event management, and so on.

All they need is people to teach them! And funds to pay them.
So my proposal is that business contribute in money and in kind to enable NGOs to implement such a programme by covering the cost of willing professionals like me to deliver skill interventions and deliverables to achieve the outcomes – NGOs performing optimally, addressing socio-economic issues like healthcare, education, skills development, unemployment, whilst simultaneously building citizens, communities and the country.

It’s not impossible. It just takes concerned citizens and business to put their money where their mouths are! NGOs like The Community Chest are waiting for you…….

SA government must do better at development education and people-to-people links

With all the networking I’ve been doing over the past eight months, I’ve got to meet so many interesting people doing exciting things. I’ve been inspired, encouraged and learnt so much about how to improve the way I do things.

The highlight of last week (perhaps my year?) was the opportunity to meet people involved in the AusAID Australia Awards – Africa Programme. Ever heard of that? Well, let me enlighten you, as I was………. This is my short version, however, you can visit www.adsafrica.com.au or http://www.ausaid.gov.au/australia-awards if you want more information.

The Australian government, through its Agency for International Development (AID), has been working very hard and investing millions in its efforts towards achieving the UN’s Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) of eliminating poverty and hunger, improving health, gender equality, education, and environmental sustainability, as well as creating global partnerships. It has shown its commitment by giving assistance in these areas to over 145 developing countries. Examples include delivery of: sanitation and clean water supply programmes in African countries like Mozambique, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and South Africa; measles and polio immunization programmes in Papua New Guinea; building a bridge across the Mekong River giving marginalized people in East Asia more mobility and accessibility to economic opportunities.

AusAID works with governments of developing countries to improve the way they deliver social, economic and community services. Through partnerships and policy dialogues with specific organisations, clinics and schools are built, advice and training is given; management systems are put in place – all with a view to improving crucial services and empowering people.

Enter the Australia Awards… The Australian government provides funds for educational and training opportunities for key people who take up scholarships in Australia where they study and develop skills that empower them to contribute to capacity and skills building and leadership on their return to their home countries. In this way these awardees, with potential to be future leaders, change-makers and advocates for a better life – socially and economically, promote the development and improvement in the quality of health, educational, social and civic services and make a difference to their communities and their countries.

There is a message in this: If the Australian government can implement a development education and training initiative in Africa, surely the South Africa government can too? Let’s follow their lead.

As communities explode over lack of services delivery and as over 20,000 South African matriculants prepare to enter the working world, it behoves leaders in business, education and civic organisations to get into gear on urgent dialogue, action and proactive partnerships to speed up reform of skills development and training programmes to increase job creation, reduce poverty, improve service delivery, energise our economy and develop good citizens.

Link

Poor, academically deserving students cannot get a university education because of their financial position, the chairman of Parliament’s portfolio committee on higher education Ishmael Malale, said on Wednesday (13 February).
“The debate is about access and the continued elitist thinking about education in our country which the government is funding,” said Malale, after higher education department officials briefed the committee on the enrollment process at universities and Further Education and Training (FET) colleges.

Over 250,000 students have been enrolled at FET colleges, while registration at universities is continuing.

Higher education director general Gwebunkundla Qonde, told MPs government had succeeded in improving access to education through increased allocations to the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) and the National Skills Fund.

The allocation for FET colleges in 2010 was R310m, which increased to R1.7bn last year. The 2013 allocation stood at just under R2bn.

Qonde said while the increases were substantial they were not enough to provide bursaries to all poor or deserving students.

“If you come to universities you actually get confronted with the same picture of huge increases that have been made available by government into the system. Are they sufficient? No. Are they huge? Yes,” Qonde said.

Malale and his fellow MPs were not convinced.

They said there were still too many cases of poor children who had excelled at school being excluded from higher learning institutions because they could not pay for tuition.

“The billions (of rand) which the state contributes to higher education indicates commitment to expand the system,” said Malale.

MPs said no child who was performing well academically should be excluded from universities and FET colleges.

Soure:Sapa via I-Net Bridge
SOURCE http://www.bizcommunity.com/Article/196/371/89304.html