A SOCIETY WHERE EVERY CHILD DEVELOPS INTO A PURPOSE DRIVEN CHANGEMAKER
LEARNERS OF TODAY - SOUTH AFRICA'S FUTURE LEADERS - ARE VERY DIFFERENT TO LEARNERS OF YESTERDAY
The always-connected generation is constantly glued to mobile devices. Technology is so intimately woven into their lives that the concept of ‘early adopter’ is essentially meaningless. But the way we teach them hasn’t changed since the Industrial Revolution. We insist they leave iPads at home, learn from outdated textbooks and a teacher using chalk on a blackboard. Our entire education system, from cradle to career, prepares learners for a world that no longer exists.
South African learners have adapted quicker than the education system. They know that in a Google-powered world, remembering has become obsolete. They no longer view teachers, textbooks and headmasters as the pillars of education. Their learning expectations have shifted from the traditional - Remembering > Understanding > Applying > Analysing > Evaluating > Creating.
Learners today want to know how to Analyse, Evaluate and Create, but we’re teaching them to Remember.
Our learners increasingly question the value of traditional education. Many of them turn to TED talks, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) from the world’s top universities and Distributed Online Collaborative Courses (DOCC), which recognise that expertise is distributed throughout a network rather than concentrated in a single teacher. There is an increasing appetite for new ways of learning.
Unlike previous generations, our learners now have a surplus of information, and use technology to help them filter what they need. Textbooks and libraries are becoming increasingly irrelevant.
This is not a uniquely South African challenge: education globally is grappling with the question of how best to motivate and inspire learners.
WHERE WILL SA BE IF WE IGNORE THIS SHIFT IN LEARNING EXPECTATIONS?
SA spent R213.7bn on basic education in 2016, or about 15% of the total budget. UN data shows that SA allocates a higher proportion of its budget toward education than the US, UK and Germany.
Despite the high investment, South Africa’s primary-education system was rated 126th out of 138 countries in the World Economic Forum’s 2016-17 Global Competitiveness Report, while its higher-education and training system ranked 134th.
Poor educational standards have been a constraint to economic growth. The World Economic Forum considers an inadequately skilled workforce as the third-most problematic factor for doing business in South Africa, after government bureaucracy and restrictive labour regulations.
Continuing the educational status quo wastes taxpayer’s contributions and stifles GDP growth. Giving up on the youth of our country and our future generations is not an option. You and I will retire in a world run by today’s learners.
Tweaking our education system so that it empowers learners of today – without waiting for government mandate – will result in a highly positive future for South Africa. Because education is the basis of everything, getting it right can help achieve:
A much better quality of life for all South African citizens;
Elimination of poverty;
Reduction of inequality.
THE GOOD NEWS
THERE IS A SIMPLE, EFFECTIVE, PROVEN WAY TO DELIVER FUTURE FIT LEARNING IN SA
The answer lies in a common trait found in successful South African entrepreneurs. That trait is the ability to pose Big Questions – questions that stretch the imagination, inspire creative thinking and push the boundaries of conditioning and ingrained beliefs.
Example 1: Elon Musk was born in Pretoria in 1971 and now lives in Los Angeles. Elon dared to ask a question about whether it’s possible to live on other planets. His seemingly simple – but intriguing – question resulted in the birth of an entirely new industry: lunar tourism. Elon’s personal net worth today is $13.5B.
Example 2: Sibongile Sambo was born in Bushbuckridge, Mpumalanga in 1974. After she was rejected by SAA because she did not meet height requirements for flight attendants, she dared to ask what it would take for her to become a pilot. She is now the CEO and Founder of SRS Aviation, the first 100 per cent black, female-owned aviation services company in South Africa.
Example 3: Herman Mashaba was born in Hammanskraal in 1959 and is currently the Mayor of Johannesburg. In his early life of poverty as a child he dared to ask the question, “Is this all there is?” This innocent and simple question led him to launch Black Like Me, which became the biggest hair brand in South Africa. He is now the CEO and Founder of Leswikeng Minerals and Energy, with a personal net worth of $100M.
Example 4: Bridgette Radebe was born in Soweto in 1960. She started life as a miner. She dared to question why black people weren’t allowed to own mining rights. Today she is the Founder, Executive Chairperson and CEO of Mmakau Mining, with a personal net worth of $80M. She has played a key role in changing exclusionary mining legislation in South Africa and has pioneered the implementation of empowerment mining models in Africa and internationally.
If we can teach our learners to ask (and find answers to) Big Questions, we can fast track the journey from learner to successful entrepreneur, capable of positively impacting the South African – and even global – economy.
ENABLING LEARNERS TO ASK AND ANSWER BIG QUESTIONS
SELF ORGANISED LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS
The SOLE concept had humble beginnings with research conducted in Indian slums in 1999. SOLE is now established in the US, Australia, India, Argentina, Columbia, Cambodia, Greece and Mexico, but not yet in Africa. Results are globally collected and researched at SOLE Central, run by Newcastle University in the UK.
We are introducing SOLE to South African schools and our simple moonshot mission – and the future we believe in – is 2030 by 2030.
We want to identify, nurture and grow two thousand and thirty future-fit entrepreneurial icons, role models and leaders.
Like Elon Musk and Peter Diamandis (founder of the X Prize Foundation), we know that tackling preposterous challenges has unintended – but valuable – outcomes. These outcomes improve the lives of millions or even billions of people. We know that by setting a seemingly impossible mission of 2030 by 2030, we will improve the lives of millions of South African learners.
There are, however, a number of significant challenges to overcome. Our current education system is struggling with:
A shortage of teachers, underqualified teachers and poor teacher performance;
Poor learner standards and results;
Insufficient resources and inadequate infrastructure, particularly where technology is concerned;
Demoralisation and disillusionment among teachers and a negative and worsening perception of the teaching profession.
SOLE SA help learners, teachers and even parents transform from an old world of text books and memorising to a new world of entrepreneurial thinking, underpinned by technology. SOLE sessions spark empathy in learners, which plays a crucial role in innovation, change-making, and solving systemic problems.
The Custodians of Future Fit Learning
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