We Need An Education System For Africans By Africans

What kind of education system does Africa need to thrive in the fourth industrial revolution and how do we produce learners who will be productive and competitive in the future economy? These were among the questions ‘The Educators’ Inspire Session, a Heavy Chef collaboration with Discovery SA, aimed to find out.

Thabo Mbeki Foundation CEO Max Boqwana set the tone for the evening with a rousing introduction, emphasising the need for a clear and practical strategy for education on the continent. 

“Time has come for us to think about the mantra 'Made in Africa' in terms of education," said Boqwana.

Thabo Mbeki Foundation Youth Hub’s Lukhanyo Neer shared the findings from a paper he has spearheaded to do just that. The report on the future of education in Africa is the result of a challenge presented to Neer by former president Thabo Mbeki, at last year’s fabled event, to come up with solutions to a pressing issue. Needless to say, he rose to the challenge. 

Lukhanyo Neer and former president Thabo Mbeki

Lukhanyo Neer and former president Thabo Mbeki

“In order for education to flourish in Africa, it’s important that systems of governance are strengthened and the relevant infrastructure developed,” said Neer.

It is very clear though that we can’t keep doing education the same way we’ve been as that would be a disservice to future generations. A panel discussion with Rapelang Rabana, Sam Paddock and Neer explored further how best we can go about this, offering insight into the workings of some of the best minds in the education game at the moment.

"We need to rebalance the 'what' of learning with the 'how' of learning,” said Rabana. “The content of what we've been learning and teaching is fast becoming obsolete." 

Sam Paddock and Rapelang Rabana

Sam Paddock and Rapelang Rabana

Sam Paddock agrees. "Evidence suggests that even online learning alone is not the answer. With a digital approach to learning, we are looking at something we can measure. When we start measuring the learning, it becomes a science." 

"We also need to prioritise the 4 Cs of education,” he added. “Critical thinking, creativity, communication and collaboration are key for driving transformation in learning.”

Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga

Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga

However, the kind of education system we need to thrive in the fourth industrial revolution must be applicable to both rural and urban settings, in informal and formal areas. Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga reiterated this point by reminding the audience that 96% of learners in South Africa are in public schools, schools in such a dire state that basic infrastructure is a challenge. "We need to support public education because that is where the children of the nation are," she said.   

“Having a body like the Thabo Mbeki Foundation handle the intellectual engagement is really enriching to the education sector in South Africa,” acknowledged Motshekga.

Former president Thabo Mbeki closed off the evening on a sombre note by addressing the spurt of violence and disorder in the country, surely one of the challenges we will have to overcome in order to get education to a place where it can enable our country. 

“This report is a refreshing positive development during South Africa's trying times," he said. "It’s not a country's mineral wealth that changes society for the better, but its human capital."

A pivotal discussion, especially in the midst of all we’re going through as a country. Thanks to our partners and supporters for making such discourse possible.

Until the next one. Stay Inspired.

Browse through our image gallery below for the full experience.