Biznews community member Marco Compagnoni believes the fundamental solution to the structural problem of unemployment and poverty in SA is a drastic improvement in the quality of public education and by starting with properly funded and professionally run ‘Early Childhood Development’ [ECD] Centres, to a radical restructuring of Higher Education, will equip graduates for the work opportunities of the future. This is his dream for South Africa in 2017. – Stuart Lowman.
My Dream for South Africa is inspired by the timeless words of our beloved Nelson Mandela: "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”; and supported by the clear statement in the National Development Plan [NDP]: ‘Education, skills training and innovation will play essential roles in the achievement of almost all the goals set out in the Plan. Almost nothing in the Plan can be achieved without high-quality education…’
As widely recognised, corruption in Business and Politics is a cancer which eats away at the heart of all economic activity. Until that is excised, inequality in society will not be significantly reduced. But even once corruption has been eradicated, the deep-rooted and twin problems of unemployment and poverty will remain, unless the quality of public education is drastically improved.
In addition to the ECDs, we must implement the following fundamental policy changes:
1. Recruit Teachers who are or train them to be competent in the required subjects, with emphasis on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects + English. Teaching in these subjects must be classified as ‘critical skills’ and recruitment must be extended to any country which can provide such qualified and competent Teachers (Prof. Jonathan Jansen proposed this in one of his weekly columns, whilst still VC at the University of the Free State).2. Select Principals with the required aptitude, knowledge and skills, with the authority to appoint Teachers who are competent and dedicated, in consultation with effective School Governing Bodies, without meddling from self-serving third-parties, such as Trade Union officials. Principals can then be held accountable for quality outcomes in their school.3. Introduce English as the language of tuition for Children from age 5 (optimal age for learning a second language). Currently functionally illiterate Matriculants must become a thing of the past, and fast. Of course the other 10 official languages must be nurtured and preserved by the respective communities, but not by schools, if we want to educate global citizens.4. Recall Professor Jansen from his Fellowship at Stanford University in the USA, and appoint him as Minister of Education, with two Deputies.
It will take at least 18 years to see the results; but if we do not start in earnest now, one of the major components of the NDP will remain a missed opportunity even by 2035; and SA will become ever more marginalised as ineffectual on the world stage, even in Africa.
Quality public education on the other hand, will provide the necessary foundation for skills and competence. People with relevant skills and competence will find jobs. Jobs will reduce unemployment; and greater levels of employment will reduce poverty and create a more equitable society, with all the benefits that will flow from it.
If we do at least 1, 2 and 3 above, together with the other ‘fundamentals’ – such as rooting out corruption, SA will be able to take its place of pride amongst the winning nations of the 21st Century, alongside the likes of Germany, Holland, Nordic countries and Singapore. That’s a Dream worth pursuing with boldness and commitment from all who love South Africa and want to see a bright future of hope and opportunities for all its citizens, commensurate with their energy and talents.
- Mario Compagnoni came to SA in 1964 and became a SA Citizen in 1994. He was a Teacher at a private school in Cape Town, before entering business as a Human Resources Practitioner and subsequently General Manager in the Automotive Technologies industry for 15 years. He has operated as an independent Contractor for the last 10 years.
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