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Special Report – Education nation

Education is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as “the process of receiving or giving systematic instruction, especially at a school or university”.1  Former president Nelson Mandela put it more simply by declaring that education is “the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”.

At the moment South Africa is definitely not a thriving education nation. In fact, the statistics paint a rather gloomy picture: for every 100 pupils who started school in 2002, 51 made it to matric in 2013 (of which 40 passed, and only 16 qualified for university).2 Clearly there are a few blockages in our education pipeline. Our school pass rates are not good, and for every Model C school out there it seems there is another one struggling along without textbooks, teachers or basic facilities. Even for those who are lucky enough to get a matric certificate, prospects of getting into a university (and eventually a job) are still not fantastic.

The unemployment rate in South Africa is 24,7 per cent (4,6 million people),3 while there are currently over 800 000 unfilled positions for skilled workers.4 It would appear there is a gap between the skills people have and skills our economy needs. Beating the education challenge will mean solving this problem and developing a model for education that will take a candidate all the way to being happily employed and contributing to our economy.

So what is the solution? An African proverb says that it takes a village to raise a child, and this could well be the attitude needed to solve our country’s learning woes. Instead of leaving education to the government (and moaning about events like the Limpopo textbook fiasco), we may need to recognise that there are many different facets making up a pupil’s education and that everyone can help with a different part of the process.

There are some great examples of this happening all around us, in fact too many to mention. I’d like to point out one example that I have experienced over the last few months, because it left a lasting impression on me.

One is LIV Village, an organisation based just outside Durban in KwaZulu-Natal that is actively changing our country’s future, one child at a time. The village currently has over 150 orphaned and vulnerable children living across 26 homes, complete with a foster mother to love and care for them. The village exists to raise the next generation of leaders in this nation and caters for all the needs of the children and mothers, including a school with sporting facilities and a clinic.5 Once the village is complete, approximately 1 000 children will be living in 96 homes.

This is  just one example of great things happening in our country, and thankfully there are many more, which give us encouragement to tackle the task of making our nation an educated one. A Tibetan proverb states that a child without education is like a bird without wings. If South Africa is to become a developed nation, we need to start by ensuring all our birds have wings to soar to new heights. ❐


1 At http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/education.

2 See http://www.iol.co.za/news/matric-is-not-the-be-all-and-end-all-1.1631641#.UvMs6_mSyrS.

3 See http://www.tradingeconomics.com/south-africa/indicators.

4 See http://www.africaneconomicoutlook.org/en/in-depth/youth_employment/education-skills-mismatch/.

5 See http://www.liv-village.com/

6 See http://www.qurio.co.za.

Author: Sam Bradley is a manager for Deloitte RecruitTalent