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Unemployment: Blame the “Grand-pa” education system 

SHARE   |   Monday, 25 September 2017   |   By Agisanyang Makgatswana
Unemployment: Blame the “Grand-pa” education system 

Graduation gowns are a sign that one has crossed the key bridge of life. Graduates on graduation days jump up and down shouting – “Mama I made it!” A smile is shared when looking back at so many sleepless nights and isolation from family members and friends on a quest to chase a degree. Boom! Reality hits and it hits hard; graduation gowns now have turned into grieving outfits. This was portrayed by the #Unemployment movement after their first demonstration was violently dismissed by the police at the National Assembly in 2016.  The “one size fits all” education system introduced to our parents and passed on to our kids is not yielding results anymore. In 2008 the Department of Public Service Management (DPSM) created a database for unemployment. Since 2008-2015 a total of 21 284 graduates were registered of which 6 612 (30.29) were absorbed by the public service and the private sector. Thousands more graduated on 2016. This year even more shall be graduating. Where will they go? From primary level to senior level, students are exposed to the same standard of learning the only difference being the work load. The system is content based and less practical i.e. students are not tested according to their abilities but rather based on the overall mark without considering each individual’s capabilities. For 12 years, students do the same thing over and over again. At reaching tertiary level they become frustrated as they have no clue of what they are getting themselves into. The pressure here makes weak students to fail; survivors still meet them in the community because they do not fit well in the modern day community. Some career paths are not just based on the overall mark you had in class – they go with passion and person should have that instinct within them. Being good in English does not automatically qualify a person to be a journalist; you have to have that drive, an eye and nose for news, confidence etc. Likewise, being good in sciences does not mean that particular student should become a nurse. Fortunately for them their profession is in high demand and hardly would you see a nurse graduate roaming the street unemployed.  This is maybe one of the reasons why complaints about malpractice among nurses are on the rise. The root cause of all this mess is the lack of link between our high school and tertiary schools. Most students only realise their full potential at tertiary level after being exposed to the real world. Only a few get the opportunity to change to the course they feel more comfortable with. The rest will have to suffocate for four years doing something they are not passionate about. 

The classroom environment is also not fit enough to produce a well-informed student who can compete at international level. In most cases, a teacher may have to face about 30-40 students at primary level; the level which is most critical to every learner as students grab the concept of learning at this point. Too much pressure on the teacher makes it hard to attend to each individual’s needs. This result in some students failing to get the concept behind learning, making results to drop every year. Emphasis on white colour jobs by the education system is also among the reasons unemployment rate is too high. Students are made to believe that some jobs are better than others, hence they tend to crowd some career paths which overtime get saturated. The system on its own also forces students to crowd on one path, it goes back to the beginning – “we all think alike”. That mentality doesn’t only affect us when choosing career paths to take, it also hinders us from thinking outside the box. Not long ago the government came up with poverty eradication programmes where the government would fund people to start their own businesses. In an area where backyard garden produced better results, more people applied for that same idea. In the long run such creative idea lost its intended purpose, can we blame them though? Even though we are far from reaching the rest of the world, there is a tiny light at the end of the tunnel. Some people within the community are slowly realising that Mike and John are not the same so is Malebogo and Dineo. On February 2016, Limkokwing in partnership with Ministry of Education and Skills Development (MOESD launched) a Performing Arts project for Creative Industry named “Unleash Your Star Qualities”. According to the speakers during the day, the training is expected to produce industry ready and competent performers and artists who will employ themselves through their talent. A tour around the country was set to conduct auditions for selection of the best 100 candidates for the programme. The auditions were based on talent not how they performed at school. I believe a lot of those enrolled under the programme were rejected by the current education system at lower levels (Junior or high school). Here Mike, John and Malebogo were called back and told that the “one size fit all” couldn’t fit them. They were given a chance to unleash their star qualities which were long suppressed by our education system. During the launch, the then Minister of education Dr Unity Dow was quoted by the Voice Newspaper saying: “This is part of target 20 000 up skilling and up scaling which is meant to equip youth with the right skills to be able to participate meaningfully in the economy and reduce unemployment”

From her words she acknowledges that the said youth lacked the right skills needed to participate meaningfully in the economy as such the programme aims at equipping them with the right skills. The ministry is now aware that the skills they were (the youth) exposed to no longer enable the them to take part in building the economy. It is now vivid that the target 20k was a panic button. It is a call for help by the Ministry; things have gone out of hand. Billions of Pula’s are spent every year on education but the situation seems to be worsening. Yes, education is the key to success but every door has its own lock. If we are given the same key with different locks to open the door, the result is what we see today. Some keys will open, some may fit but not turn and others will not fit at all. When the rains of unemployment hit those with the wrong keys, they are forced to act drastically and lose their minds. People who criticised the unemployment movement couldn’t fit in the shoes of those poor souls having keys (degrees/qualifications) which cannot open any door.