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  • BusinessDay-Friday 1 June 2018

 ‘Learning must evolve to future-proof Africa’-by Xolisa Phillip

To code or not to code? This educational dilemma is giving parents sleepless nights as they try to secure a bright future for their children in a technology-driven world. In SA, the education offered at schools is not preparing pupils for the fourth industrial revolution.
“I get people asking me: ‘What should my kids study?’,” says Deloitte Africa’s chief digital and innovation officer Valter Adão. “It’s not so much about what you study, but how you have been taught to study.
“A lot of people are saying we need to bring coding into education. There is an element of value around that. But more important is the philosophy of critical thinking. Teach students at university to be apt in critical thinking, in design thinking, which is a different way of looking at problems and solving them.
“To teach critical thinking, we need to strengthen the fundamentals of education, which are mathematics, science, language and looking at some of the other disciplines that enable critical thinking. Our education construct needs improvement.”
Education is one of the major themes of the second Singularity University Summit SA that will take place in October.
Its core theme is how to “future-proof Africa”, with a key conversation planned on education and how it can facilitate and enable innovation.
The Mann brothers, Shayne and Mic of Mann Made Media, hold SA’s licence for the event.
There is agreement among experts in this space that disruption is the new normal, and a new wave is coming. It is no longer a question of “if”, but “when” it will take hold.
Gary Bolles, an expert on the future of work and learning and chairman of Silicon Valley-based think-tank Singularity University, says “advances in technology have an inevitable impact on industries”.
But “incremental changes in SA’s education are not going to take the country into the future. SA needs to have a transformed education system that empowers individual learners and creates lifelong learners”, he adds.
Much of the way children are taught nowadays was crafted in the early 20th century, when many countries realised that to move from agrarian to industrial societies “they needed to do mass education”, Bolles says. “So we created this model of a teacher on a stage as the font of wisdom. Information was in the head of the teacher. And it was in school libraries.
“Information is everywhere nowadays. The really skilled people of tomorrow are problem solvers who are adaptive and creative, with empathy. We can upskill people to solve problems,” says Bolles.
SA and its continental peers need not despair or be overwhelmed because, from where Bolles stands, “it is often the poor communities that have some of the most entrepreneurial people. What they don’t have is that they aren’t given enough of a chance or the resources to do breakthrough innovation.
“SA is a microcosm of Africa as a whole. It has many of the characteristics of the range of different economies in Africa, with 11 languages and tremendous resources. With this kind of economy, it is necessary to think bigger. Africa has many of the assets it needs to … become the future.”
In SA, one challenge is inadequate spending on research and development (R&D).
“Our policies, frameworks and organisations are decades behind. If you look at GDP spend on R&D, SA is way below the global average,” says Shayne Mann. “We know the wave is coming, we can see it.”
Mic Mann agrees, but cautions that “our education systems are teaching our kids things that are going to become irrelevant in the future”.
“We need to be teaching our kids about programing, creativity, about computer engineering and analysing data. “These are skills that are going to become major industries in the future, with jobs that don’t exist yet.”
But as the world changes, who will safeguard it? “A lot of bodies and global associations are creating AI [artificial intelligence] standards and robotics ethics to try to safeguard against ways that could lead to negative technology,” says Mic Mann.
Standard Bank’s director of interactive marketing, Bellinda Carreira, proposes that scientists, futurists, executives, lawmakers and entrepreneurs all have a role to play in the ethical debates on genetic engineering, the effects of AI on the future of work, education and currencies and different financial and economic systems. This should include a debate on privacy.

  • Refleksyon Lepep

The State recognises the right of every citizen to education and with a view to ensuring the effective realisation of this right undertakes -
(a) to provide compulsory education, which shall be free in State schools, for such minimum period, which shall not be less than ten years, as may be prescribed by law;
(b) to ensure that the educational programs in all schools are aimed at the complete development of the person;
(c) to afford, on the basis of intellectual capability, every citizen equal access to educational opportunities and facilities beyond the period of compulsory education;..............

Article 33-Right to Education
Constitution of the Republic of Seychelles

“We the people shall rise up to the occasion in spite of all the odds! We are not down and out … don’t dare make that mistake!”

DOLOR C. ERNESTA
Lepep i Note, Lepep i kontinyen Note, nepli martir bann demagozi politik!

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