Opinionista Mduduzi Mbiza 16 July 2018

Mr Premier: Here are the solutions to your education concerns

This system is simply putting many young people in school for 12 years and offering them unemployment in return.

Recently Stephen Grootes interviewed the Premier of Gauteng David Makhura – in an article titled Discussing politics with Gauteng Premier David Makhura, Stephen discusses with the Premier, among other things, the state of education in South Africa.

Makhura expressed his concerns about the mismatch between what business needs, and what young people are being taught. He also mentioned that he’s working on fixing this. Having written a number of articles on the education or rather the schooling system in South Africa, I couldn’t resist jumping on the Premier’s comments.

Fortunately, Mr Premier, I am of the same view as you. This system is simply putting many young people in school for 12 years and offering them unemployment in return.

Mr Premier, while you’re on your way to fixing the system, take along with you this short article from a young man in Mamelodi.

It’s no lie that young people in South Africa are still vulnerable, also looking at the fact that youth unemployment is a global issue with 71 million unemployed according to the International Labour Organisation. It’s a global issue that also affects South Africa in a harsh manner.

According to the Statistics SA, more than one in every three young people in the labour force didn’t have a job in the first quarter of 2018 – about 38.2% of young people among the national unemployment rate. What’s alarming is the stats on graduates – the ones the business needs but are not equipped enough. With 33.5% of them aged 15-24 unemployed and 10.2% aged 25-34 unemployed  – the system is just not preparing them for the future.

So, what can you take away from this article? Well, firstly, I know for one that South Africa has a high shortage of engineers and one of the many reasons (probably the main reason) is that many of our matric grads don’t take maths and science as their major subjects and even when they do, they don’t meet the level required by universities. On your way to fixing the system, please keep in mind that we also have a very high shortage of qualified maths and science teachers – this is where we should begin, because we can’t solely blame students for failing these subjects when there’s no one qualified to teach them. We should work towards getting more student teachers in maths and science subjects.

Secondly, according to the Statistics on Post-School Education and Training in South Africa: 2016; the majority of 2016 graduates from public HEIs (Higher Education Institutions) were in the Science Engineering and Technology (29.1% or 59 125), followed by Business and Management (27.8% or 56 364), all other Humanities (22.4% or 45 480) and Education (20.7% or 42 107).

I certainly believe that we should be having quite a wide gap between the grads in the science engineering and in the business management field, because the fourth industrialisation wave is already saturated with business management and human resources but needs more  graduates in the science field.

So assuming that we have the teachers we need, we are going to need a very high level of mobilisation to encourage the young to pursue scarce careers. Bring in successful people who are already in these scarce skills to motivate the youth. People will always connect  to other peoples’ stories of success.

Now Mr Premier, these are some of the solutions to your concerns about our education systems. DM

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