The short and sweet of it #Education

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I feel I have the right to put my foot down in the discussion because I have been teaching South African children since 1998 and am still actively teaching pupils between 3 and 14 years old 4 times a week. So no head in the clouds here.

For the long version consult my previous post.

This is what stays behind in my mind after chewing through the comments of all those that want to #advanceSA and #buildSa on Twitter, while comparing those excited, inspired online tweets with our South African daily reality.

1. Discussions need a common framework to start from. Host needs to set up page with agreed definitions.

2. Entrepreneurs seem to feel they do not need the educational system of the country. Now, I agree there are brilliant self-taught personalities out there. I will gladly take them on in a discussion any day, because I am myself a wizzkid, autodidact and fast thinker. Nevertheless there is a need for intelligence hubs such a universities. You brilliant mind who feels he’s got business down to a t. What do you want to entrepreneur with? Sell a service or a product and make a profit?

Now, without advancing South Africa’s education on a big scale, your base level service deliverer will not be high-end excellence if the country does not provide great education from the start. Using gastronomy as a service example: An entrepreneur in a country where the average general education level is low, will have trouble finding clued up waiters who come with a set of skills. If a costumer asks for the ingredients of a specific dish and gets a friendly smile and an “Eish… come again?” for an answer, the Chef’s reputation will suffer no matter how excellent his dishes are. South Africa is big on friendliness paired with utter ignorance. Your average waiter does not know what is an allergen let alone will be able to point possible allergens out to an inquiring customer. I find myself regularly explaining to waiters that at the start of their shift they MUST find out what is the soup of the day and how it’s made, and which dishes are prepared fresh from scratch that day  (I absolutely can not stand the taste of frozen and re-cooked food!). Now why would that be necessary for a costumer to do?

Because the general South aFrican Entrepreneur has not cared to go and intern overseas to see the advantages of a broadly educated labour force. I believe one skilled employee can achieve more profit for your business than 15 hired hands. Challenge me on it. I will prove it to you on so many levels.

3.We all heard the fantastic argument that bringing in one guy with high-tech machinery instead of 20 road side hands will destroy jobs in the country. Goodness guys, do you really just think hand in mouth? Those 20 road side hands will always stay that, if you build your country on keeping them uneducated. They will earn a marginal salary, not being able to advance the country’s yearly turnover by buying more goods, they will not be able to send their kids to better schools. They will stay your poor people. And their kids, and their kids after them. And you thought you are doing good by keeping those jobs.

The government must provide free for all tertiary education and job related training in partnership with the big industries of the country. It takes 1 welder about 5  kg of metal and a day to make a wheelbarrow. Skilled engineers need 10 grams of metal and transform it into a cellphone. An average gold mine produces a mere 5 grams of gold per ton of rock, sometimes less depending on the local geology. The same amount of recycled cell phones may contain near 200 grams of the precious metal. A ton of used cellphones is likely to contain well over 100 kilograms of copper, also a valuable resource and 3 kilograms of silver.

Now get my drift here: With very little raw material and highly skilled employees we can start creating real value in the country. Why keep your work force ignorant when you can have them skilled. Entrepreneurs should start seeing that their livelihood relies on the education of the people.

This is of course unless you are a cheapo and make a living by importing  cheap goods from China and sell them for a profit? THAT kind of thinking gets Africa into trouble as it exploits the poor even more. I am always shocked to see that it’s the poorest of the poor who get to buy a ten Rand toy made in China with the only guarantee that it will break in a day. How heart breaking. The government should implement a standardised technological quality test, like the German TÜV.

Entrepreneurs get your ethics up. Made in South Africa can become a quality trade mark if you push it.

4. Government, start to care about people. Free preschools with university-trained teachers for all. Country wide. In the Valley of a thousand hills, in the Townships, in the tropical forests villages. Government trains and pays the teachers. Result: All grade 1s start at same level, knowing their native language and english fluently and have an acceptable level of general knowledge. Now the primary schools can concentrate on their curriculum instead of battling with so many different standards of understanding.

5. Vocational Colleges and Universities have to be free. Every child must grow up knowing if he concentrates on his studies, all doors will be open in later life.

What do you think about that?

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