Will SA be in the class of 2022?

2011-01-22 17:54

If you thought having seven ­different jobs in a lifetime was a sign of professional ­instability, you’ll be shocked to read what experts have to say about what the future holds for this year’s Grade 1s.

“Children who start Grade 1 this year will have five to seven different careers in a lifetime,” says Piet Müller, futurist and lecturer at the University of ­Pretoria.

“They will probably retire in a career that does not yet exist.

Children that go to varsities ­today know that what they learn in first year is already old technology by (their) fourth year because of today’s rapid pace of development.

“New media such as social networking sites will be the new educational tools, which will come at a rate we can’t predict.”
Susan van Wyk, education manager at education company Think Ahead, agrees.

She says: “With the advent of modern technology, 21st-century skills of innovation and creative thinking are becoming ever-more vital.

“We are training kids for ­positions we don’t know will ­exist in the future.

In 10 years’ time, the whole nature of ­getting a bunch of 11-year-olds together to learn a subject will have become redundant.

“Learning will become far more individualised, and will concentrate on individual ­careers and interests.”

Books will disappear, according to Pieter Geldenhuys, a ­futurist and director of the ­Institute for Technology Strategy and Innovation at Potchefstroom Business School.

Educational technology expert Aggrey Rantloane ­concurs.

“The factor that will drive learning will be video so that the learner can interact with people across the world and collaboration tools such as instant messaging and other forms of ­information-sharing,” he says.

“Forget laptops,” says Geldenhuys. “One child, one tablet is a surer bet. All reading material and videos of all the classes for the year will be on the tablet.

“The learner can then work at his/her own pace. iPads have ­already replaced books in some postgraduate programmes at US and UK universities.”

And therein lies Müller’s discontent­ with South Africa’s schooling system.

“Our school system is ­outdated.

The world is now moving to the knowledge ­economy where you can go work anywhere in the world if you went to the right schools.”

This could spell disaster for the country’s poorer school-leavers, if technology in ­education is not prioritised.

“As South Africa is seen as a good implementer/adapter of technology, rather than a ­creator, we might have to change our curriculum to take note of these changes in the ­global economic environment, or face the risk of becoming ­increasingly irrelevant regarding our role in global growth ­areas,” says Geldenhuys.

But is all this possible in a country where infrastructure and technological development are limited?

Rantloane is sceptical.

“The lack of ­bandwidth is a big inhibitor.

The challenge is for the country to build better broadband ­services,” he says.

“Broadband should be one of the biggest utilities for the country to focus on because of what it can do to transform the country and education.”

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