By Phomolo Matleelane
Last year I had the opportunity to tutor my landlord’s kids for the 3 months. I took a break when the child completed his exams to refresh and started with his big sister close to her exams. The former was challenging mostly because the child had dropped from A grades to D grades. It wasn’t more about him passing the exams but a lot about restoring his confidence back, that is to ignite in him to believe that he can do better again and even more. Throughout these sessions I learnt a principle that I somehow believe that as educators at all levels we overlook. The principle of not just feeding/bombarding children with information but finding out first what they intend to do with the education that we would give them. This is important because when we know what kids want, their dreams/their vision for life, we will be able to help them build what they are looking forward to in the future. I believe that when they know that, their education will be used to aid/propel their dreams into motion thus to working against any tidal wave to make sure that they arrive at the destination.
It is apparent that the landscape around job security has wildly changed and as people in Africa and the world we have to wake up to that reality. It is no longer the case on the ground that after a University graduate takes of their gown the next day they walk into their office. Young graduates today are looming on the streets and to their demise their fellow countrymen who do not have the seemingly esteemed qualification are flourishing and making big deals and transcending in businesses unimaginable. If this does not say we must interrogate our education system, I wonder what will! Perhaps what we tell our children from a young age as little as in primary school should change; learners must be instilled to use education as a means to craft them into the product that will enhance their world. Education must cultivate their minds to be creators of their destiny, revolutionise them to desire to contribute to their communities and bring a desirable change.
My observation is that students today spend more time on their smartphones or other electronic gadgets. During tutoring, my student told me that they were able to study their material only when they had their headphones on listening to music. They said that during an exam or test they will remember the song that they were studying and somehow remember the details of what they were reading. It is surreal to think of this; however it is likely that students across the globe are doing that. More areas/houses have electricity, connection of home phone lines thus access to internet services. Therefore perhaps our systems should incorporate the dynamic changes in technology. We must teach our children the opportunities that come with being technological literate and how to use it to solve problems locally and globally.
I believe that if we can empower the young generation from a young age (primary school level) we will grow a breed of individuals/future leaders who are keen job creators and not seekers. This will mean that Africa’s manufacturing industries will become sustainable revenue. More importantly it is incumbent upon us to emphasize that white collar jobs are not the only route to enjoying and putting food on the table. That is, there are many ways of being resourcefully creative and contributing to development in our communities.