Ed­u­ca­tion: no time to waste

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - COMMENT -

T HE MA­TRIC­U­LANTS of 2009 are jus­ti­fi­ably cel­e­brat­ing their suc­cess, but when the eu­pho­ria sub­sides they will have to face a tough chal­lenge. The hard-bit­ing re­ces­sion has height­ened the prob­lem of un­em­ployed young adults and mighty few of the cur­rent crop of matrics will be able to go straight into the work­place.

Re­search in­di­cates that even in bet­ter eco­nomic climes it is fur­ther ed­u­ca­tion that makes the dif­fer­ence – bluntly, a mi­nus­cule num­ber of hon­ours grad­u­ates find them­selves un­em­ployed and un­em­ploy­able but the op­po­site is true of school-leavers, with those who drop out be­fore achiev­ing ma­tric stand­ing scant chance of find­ing per­ma­nent em­ploy­ment. Th­ese “hid­den fail­ures” – those who have dropped out of the sys­tem along the way – are cause for grave con­cern and are yet an­other in­dict­ment of an ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem that, de­spite be­ing rel­a­tively costly for a de­vel­op­ing coun­try, sim­ply does not work.

Sadly, it seems that lit­tle in our school­ing equips youngsters with the nec­es­sary in­ter­per­sonal, let alone tech­ni­cal and aca­demic, skills to cope in the work­place.

Fur­ther stud­ies and, if pos­si­ble, ac­quir­ing a qual­i­fi­ca­tion, be it hair­dress­ing or en­gi­neer­ing, is what

will en­able young peo­ple to get hired and pros­per.

This means it is not only Min­is­ter for Ba­sic Ed­u­ca­tion Angie Mot­shekga and her of­fi­cials who face a huge and daunt­ing chal­lenge, but also Higher Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter blade Nz­i­mande and all those re­spon­si­ble for fur­ther ed­u­ca­tion.

They have to en­sure that our ter­tiary in­sti­tu­tions – from the fur­ther ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing colleges through to the uni­ver­si­ties – have the best pos­si­ble re­sources, teach­ers and re­searchers that will guar­an­tee the class of 2009 a suc­cess­ful fu­ture. This is ur­gently needed for South Africa to be­come a cut­ting-edge na­tion.

From pre-school pro­vi­sion to the uni­ver­sity halls, decisive action is re­quired from our leaders. There is no time to lose and no room for ide­o­log­i­cal quib­bles or po­lit­i­cally cor­rect mealy mouthed­ness. Our ed­u­ca­tion min­is­ters and civil ser­vants have to carve

a new path that will shape the fu­ture for us all.

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