Education: no time to waste
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.