One of the aims of any educational system is to prepare young people for life in the real world once they have left school or university.
Sadly, South Africa’s education system is not doing that.
We are not talking about the shocking reality that, when the matric exam results come around, less than half of the pupils who started in Grade 1 will have passed.
The rest will either have failed or, more likely, will have been surreptitiously removed from class or allowed to drop out, so that the politicians can continue to play their misleading games about ever-increasing percentage pass rates.
Even for the minority of pupils who make it through school to get a matric certificate and go to university, there is the sad truth that many will face disappointment. Many will end up with a feeling of hopelessness as they fail their university courses or, worse, can’t find a job with a degree.
The whole system – from primary school to tertiary level – is geared to feed desperate people, many of whom come from dirt-poor backgrounds, the illusion that a matric certificate, followed by a university degree, is the way out of poverty.
Too many people in this country want to be lawyers, when SA needs mechanics, plumbers and electricians. Yet, the technical and vocational education sector is the Cinderella child: ignored and regarded as second-rate.
Many students who should be getting a technical – and usable – qualification are wasting their youth at university.
Technical and vocational skills training should be the top priority in a developing country. Graduates of these colleges are the ones who do the developing, not ivory tower-trained academics.
Businesses need skilled artisans and such people can also start their own businesses easier than lawyers can.