As thousands of graduates and matriculants enter the job market in 2011, potential Employers and Recruitment Agents must be questioning the value of the South African education system.
Has our approach to the skills shortage crisis merely been to increase the number of graduates and matriculants ? This seems to be the case with the literacy levels and general work competencies etc. very low. More graduates and matriculants with lower competencies will not correct the skills shortage.
Surely we should be increasing standards to ensure that proper skills are available for our econonomy.
Are we merely encouraging mediocrity ?
What value does a South African matric or a Wits Law degree have in the world's eyes in 2011? The issue is addressed as a "South African conundrum" with insight in a new blog at http://www.news24.com/Columnists/PrinceMashele/Devaluing-the-South-African-graduate-20110117
As interesting are the many, many comments on the content of the blog, which is well worth a read.
What are your views?
Thanks for your comments. I share your views. Like me, there are many thousands of graduates who were very proud of their University degrees in the 1980's and 1990's because they meant something internationally. The Wits, Tukkies and Stellenbosch University law degrees, for example, were internationally recognised as of the highest standard. Our Engineering and Medical graduates were headhunted by overseas businesses and institutions. It is unfortunate that our current graduates have qualifications which are not well recognised internationally. This is a clear indication that South Africa is not producing the high standard of sought after skills as was previously the case.
Lisa Amanda Bradshaw said:
I totally agree with Prince. Its a brilliant article and addresses all my fears. The exams are so watered down, no one fails and varsities say that the level of students basic understanding has dropped!! Where does it end and can South Africans afford to be known out there in the World as a country of really substandard education!! I definitely agree that it is not about changing curriculum but about really assessing skills of the teachers. Its almost as if they have Quota money and quota numbers to get through the system when it comes to training the teachers but no one really cares about the quality and sustainability of this teacher learning!!
You raise some very valid points and I share your views about looking at Teacher Colleges. The issue of OBE remains contentious and Government will be reluctant to substantially deviate from its Policy. Hopes that the NSD III would bring about significant shifts in Government's approach were dashed. A review of the new CAPS for Schools effective from January 2012 also shows few real changes. Perhaps Skills Universe could appoint a Committee to lobby for support from Government of our joint views.
An excellent article which summarises both the education and skills crisis we are facing in South Africa. However recruitment agencies can add value by producing statistics relating to graduate programmes they may be recruiting for and temporary skills profiles for temporary contracts they are recruiting for too. The temporary market requires skills assessments in MSOffice, typing, data capture etc. which provides opporutnity for matriculants and graduates to enter the job market. The question is do the recruitment companies receive these applications and bin them because they have no working experience, instead they should test these applicants and promote them on an entry level into the employment market........
Now is the time for change and to ensure all parties concerned deal with current issues in order to take care of future requirements and global developments. We need to get the education, training and skills development effort working for the good of those involved – the beneficiaries.
Personally, and I am sure there are many who will not agree, I would advocate the following
The re-opening of all teacher training colleges as we had in the past
The training of all teachers based on GET and HET subject matter. This to exclude all training on OBE
The Minister of Basic Education to re-introduce training of all GET learners in Reading, Writing and Arithmetic as a basic minimum together with other curriculum subject matter. Basic arithmetic should be compulsory, relevant and appropriate to the life skills needs of the learners up to grade 5. From grade 5 to 8 a higher level may be chosen as an elective subject.
Prior to completion of the GET band (say, during grade 8/9 years) learners should be encouraged by means of open days, exhibitions, professionally conducted career guidance sessions, “bring a child to work” effort and so on, to make educated decisions in terms of career direction.
The objective would be to sell the concept of a technical education at FET as opposed to pursuing an academic education. The learners and their parents need to be given a much better understanding of the choices available. As Dr Patel points out, “we need to impress on our youth that these (trades and technology) are noble careers and a university (academic) education is not always the best rout to follow”
The benefits of attending and the professionalism of FET institutions must be promoted, sold, encouraged and supported. Learners who decide to take this direction on completion of grade 9 could be subsidised by government as a means of encouraging learners to pursue a technical or trade qualification. Perhaps there could be a 50/50 split between government and from the skills levies.
At the HET level, following grade 12, learners should be encouraged to pursue a “gap year” to be spent in a business environment or to undergo a one year learnership. Companies should be encouraged to facilitate this by means of tax concessions as we currently have for learnerships. The young school leaver should receive a subsistence allowance during this period subsidised from the NSF or Skills Levies
The HET level will then carry on based on the chosen career direction making use of universities and universities of technology. In this instance my only comment would be the learners behave as learners and be forbidden to demonstrate and go on strike. Government should subsidise all HET students and could consider a higher subsidy for those embarking on technical and trade related degree courses.
Don Leffler said:Yes, the system needs a review and yes the curriculum needs a review BUT SURELY we need to start by assessing the skills of our educators and addressing their shortcomings first. When I was at school, we used to regularly have School Inspectors who evaluated our Teachers and recommended improvement systems thro' coaching and mentoring programmes. This is how the UAE and US operates.
Hi esteemed colleagues
I think this is a matter of perception. I look at my son's school and they have an excellent record and the teachers are as commited as ever, and yes it is a public school. Over the years they have been producing good grades and this past year was no exception. I believe that around the coutry there are many more schools like that.
I also had the previllage of working closely with some high schools two years ago in the townships, and I was impressed by the work that the department of education was doing to improve the management and delivery of education in the schools. Principals and teachers were commited to improving their schools both physically and also the results.
Yes there are still challenges, and some bad apples, but I think it is harsh to condemn the whole of South Africa and label our education as substandard. Rather all the good points that some of you mention here should be used to HELP improve on the good work that we are all doing. But let us not make comparisons with the past. The past favoured certain groups.
And by the way, I recently had a chat with a grand father whose son went to the UK then NZ because of work. And the report the grand father got was that when the kids were admitted both in the UK and later in NZ, they skipped grades because they were far ahead of their peers. Now that is a good story about south Africa and it means it is not all bad.
The not so desirable result more often come from those schools and higher institutions that were structured deliberately in the past to serve certain populations of our country. The levels of literacy were bad even back then because these condemned communities were supposed to learn just enough to be able to understand instructions from the masters.
This is not a new problem to the masses of this country. Some of us appreciate that all this efforts by authorities are meant to try and remedy the situation and turn things around. Well, it is not going to happen anytime soon if some part of the whole(minority) still live in the past.
The systems that we have been trying so far seems to not be working because we are not embrassing them fully. We constantly make comparisons with the past and deliberately refuse to make them work.
Like I said in the beginning, those schools and institutions that do their utmost best to make it work reap the rewards. And it is the same thing with Skills development. Those employers who engage the SETAs and take full advantage of the opportunities offered through this legislation, are developing their staff and getting excellent results. It also does nor mean that there are not challenges, but we all have to work with what we have constructively and aimed to contribute. Our contribution should not only be through talk shows where we can criticise and be negative, but be actively involved where it matters. Then we will understand the real challenges and together with those adversly affected, we will be able to find ways to make it work.
Please do not mind my sentence construction or spelling, I am a product of the past education system.
Let me throw something in.
I'm not sure it really matters what the curriculum is (even OBE). The critical skill missing in education and across S.A is management, and the political will to manage. Teachers need to be in class teaching. And if they are not, discipline needs to happen. Students need to be in class learning. Teacher and student unions, unfortunately, ensure neither happens and that a culture of entitlement ensues. The latter means that active work (whether learning, teaching or anything else) is not important. "You can't make me" becomes the mantra. The lack of management skills, and the political will to support them, means that the mantra is true. Lethargy rules! Except in those pockets Benjamin talks about where teaching matters and management happens.
But it's much easier to tinker with the curriculum.
a Great article , that hits it on the nail.
You can not blame the poor students for trying because they don't know better.
I am sitting in a situation whereby ourTraining Academy can train Matriculants as operators of Forklift , Opus and Reach Truck. The cost is at most R900-00 per candidate and it takes 5 days to qualify normally with a lot of personal attention by our Assesors and sometimes we spend more time than stipulated to ensure that the operators are competent.
The candidate can then apply for a job that can earn them up to R5000.00 per month almost emmediately.
Now this is the answer to job creation !!!!
I agree with you.
As an employer i will definitely not employ a matriculant that has less than a 40% pass rate because it tells me that the individual will most likely get a task wrong 6 times out of 10.Can my or anybody else's business afford that???