Skills-Universe

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?





Tags: Bradshaw, DHET, Leffler, THSBS, education, graduates, matrics, qualifications, training

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Willie van Heerden said:

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 !!!!

It's a great challenge to balance academic matters with socio-economic and socio-political issues.  Mashele is undoubtedly speaking from a political analytic perspective, which is of course necessary in addressing the nuances of our education set-up as it's notably politicised.  It's true that there's a link between capitalist agenda and academic outcomes.  When education is reduced to a monetary object, standards get compromised as less time is what counts in maximising profit - the lesser the cost effective.  This leaves less time to scrutinise the longterm effects of the policies that are impromptu constructed.  In fact, it leaves no time at all to change the paradigm from the notion that graduating within the specified time of any academic programme does not necessary translate into internalisation of skills that must be developed over time.  Universities perform under the pressure of monetary surveilance as they have to issue graduates within a specified period, which is then applauded as academic success.  Similarly, another paradigm is at play that suggests that there is something insane about not mastering certain aspects of whether curriculum or programmes within a specified time, which sets authorities to come up with plans of how to make everybody or rather the majority to come on top because failing has suddenly become taboo because it is linked to or interpreted as financial wastage.  I do agree with the understanding that universities or education in general should be largely influenced by educationists and academics rather than political figures operating simply on political terms (although a balance is desired especially given the imbalances of the past).  Thus, like Mashele, it becomes expedient to disect the very causal factors that are triggering the changes that education ministers are obsessed with. 
Hi Willie - I have previously recruited Reach Truck Dirvers etc. and I used to conduct skills test, interview etc, then worked closely with a training institution, where we would fund the training and the applicant would contract with our company to work back the time period, in which they would gain experience and be able to access permanent job opportunities, and I would keep this cycle going with great success rates and a good feeling that I have empowered the applicant with portable skills and where they can get almost immediate employment. The same can be achieved in an admin and other working environments I am sure....... 

Willie van Heerden said:

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 !!!!

Hi Benjamin

I know that in the past the masses were given minimal effort and just enough to pass. You sound as if you are happy to stay that way because the masses are used to it. The minority as you call it does not live in the past! I am happy with my sons education at his model C School too but I would like the country to have a serious look at continually lowering the standards and I am surprised that you think we are trying to hinder education when all you can see on this site are people who want to see all education improved especially to the masses. It is not Okay that universities accept students that cannot cope and its not okay to lower the standard so more can pass. We all want to help and find solutions so that education is uplifted for all in this country.
Benjamin Motlhabane said:

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.

 

 



Lisa Amanda Bradshaw said:

Hi Benjamin

I know that in the past the masses were given minimal effort and just enough to pass. You sound as if you are happy to stay that way because the masses are used to it. The minority as you call it does not live in the past! I am happy with my sons education at his model C School too but I would like the country to have a serious look at continually lowering the standards and I am surprised that you think we are trying to hinder education when all you can see on this site are people who want to see all education improved especially to the masses. It is not Okay that universities accept students that cannot cope and its not okay to lower the standard so more can pass. We all want to help and find solutions so that education is uplifted for all in this country.

Hi Lisa

Please do'nt get me wrong. The only way we can liberate ourselves and our children is to engage now in issues like this to rectify and effect change where necessary. I was just saying that in doing so, let us not be too harsh on ourselves and think that what we do is mediocre. I am also saying that because most of what we talk about is influenced largely by socio-economic dynamics, it is important that you and I do not get lost in our own world that has the potential to be biased.

 

And I do not think that anyone here is saying it is ok to lower the standards. Perhaps what needs to be considered as someone suggested earleir is a focused seminar that looks specifically at this issue. Input can then be collated and through the skills-universe, engage the DHET, SETAS, FET, and the Ministry of basic education.

Where we are not able to influence or change policy direction, we can find ways to complement what is in place like many who are already doing so. That for me, is one way of making meaningful contribution.


Benjamin Motlhabane said:

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.

 

 

Allow me to put another angle on this whole debat. Yes, we have lowered standards to allow more students to obtain matric. Perhaps it is to stop a bottle neck situation being created in our schools. now these follow on to university where, hopefully standards will not be lowered to avoid the same bottleneck. Lets say this is a perfect world and everyone passes and obtain degrees, where are they going to work? It is a known fact that government is the lead employer in RSA and this won't be sustained. The only ay for RSA to become a successful economy such as China, India and Brasil is to teach our students to be selfsustainable. Unluckily the following role players have to come together and stop playing politics;

Education - perhaps change the curriculum to allow for entrepreneurial studies on GET and HET levels.Where has the old career guidance gone to?

Government - Create venture funding for young brilliant entrepreneurs, perhaps in conjunction with our banking system. Give tax relief to entrepreneurs starting off. Create mentor program on which these young entrepreneurs can piggy back until they are selfsustainable.

 

To turn out as many graduates as possible without considering their future role in the economy is also not the answer.

 

Hi Ian

Amazing how we are quite quick to blame the system and those responsible for the administration of the system. Whot about the ingratitued of the beneficiaries. You hit the nail on the head. For some time now i have been saying that teachers need to be given back the authority. I have called for the abolition of learner committees and student unions etc. If those who are supposed to be learning applied themselves to their studies and stopped making demands we could achieve so much more. What or where is the motivation for teachers when many of the learners could not care less. You can bring the horse to the water but cannot make it drink.

We are developing a society looking for handouts, we have cultivated a society of let others do it - it's not my problem. We can change systems, upgrade infrastructures and introduce the best quality education in the world but nothing will change until the mentality of people and the attitude of learners and parents change. I agree withyou Ian, "Lethargy Rules" - "If you would change the world my friends you must change your thinking".  

Ian Webster said:

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.

tomorrow versus yesterday, which is best is the debate

Mandela once said "If you want to hide something from a South African - put it in a book" !! Why is this statement still so relevant and applicale to today's youth?



herbert Mawodyo said:

tomorrow versus yesterday, which is best is the debate

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