Ellapen Rapiti, Kenwyn
Over 500 000 youth will have received their matric certificate in the first week of January amid much joy and jubilation, but what happens after that is the question that we should be asking.
Only a small percentage will qualify for places in tertiary institutions that will offer them courses that will enable them to find work in the workplace, a slightly larger percentage will do useless, expensive courses just because of the myth that you need a degree – no matter what degree – just to feel that you can become something of value to society one day.
Sadly, this group of students will be no better off than the majority who will not qualify to enter a tertiary institution.
These youth, like thousands of youth before them, will join the unhappy lot of unemployed, frustrated youth.
This issue of growing unemployment among matriculated youth and even among graduates has been raised several times in the past but nothing tangible was done about it.
One of the reasons l suspect nothing is done about it is that the status quo serves a number of vested interests.
One of them is that tertiary institutions make big money offering courses even though many of these courses do not equip their graduates adequately for the job market.
The other more compelling reason is that the current education system keeps thousands of teachers employed monotonously doling out the same stuff year after year, which will be of no relevance in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
The answer, it seems, would be to radically change the education system from Grade 8 by teaching them subjects that will equip them to enter the job market early on in their high school career.
The majority of our mainstream schools should be converted into technical schools because that is where the future lies – not in academic institutions.
The subjects should include computer literacy, business skills, entrepreneurship, speaking and communication skills, with the emphasis on simplicity.
There has been too much emphasis on writing in a complex way, which was difficult for many students and turned them away permanently from wanting to learn. It is not surprising that so many of our youth and even graduates cannot express themselves clearly, verbally or in writing. I could never understand why laws have to be written in complex and confusing language. The only reason l could think of is that it makes the lawmakers look very impressive, purposefully makes it hard for the lay person to understand and makes the legal fraternity a viable entity.
Radical change in our education system is 20 years overdue but nothing will change because there are far too many vested interests to protect.
It will take great courage and useful political rhetoric to change the current system of education to give our youth some hope for the future.