The education that works

The education that works

THE secondary education curriculum should aim at helping students develop advanced technological, entrepreneurial, and vocational skills for the world of work.
The curriculum should also help students to be able to apply scientific and technological knowledge and skills in developing new ideas and respond to socio economic challenges, this according to the Lesotho National Standards of Curriculum.

This is the kind of curriculum that is needed to help any society grow socially and economically.
Without this kind of curriculum, our country is still riddled with soaring high unemployment and poverty rates with the youth as the highest proportion of the unemployed population.
There is less entrepreneurship by the youth, and few graduates who are able to meet the required standards of the workplaces.

After toils of hard work and sweat at school with the hope of being employable, sadly many graduates find themselves having to wait for years before they are hired.

These graduates do not find jobs suitable to their qualifications because of saturation of jobs in both government and private organisations while others work in the manufacturing and textile sector for years just to survive.
Contrary to the allusion that having a certificate is a ticket to a high paying salary and fulfilling life, with recent years the global world economy has changed and is affecting the employability status of an individual.

Employers no longer hire people by their qualifications but on work experiences and other competencies.
The National University of Lesotho (NUL) and other institutions of higher education in the country successfully grants degree and diploma certificates to graduates, however with the growing number of graduates over the years, the government and the private sector find it hard to employ graduates despite their qualifications and employability skills.

From a personal perspective, one of the causes of rampant and pervasive high unemployment rate in this country is our educational system that does not tackle unemployment at early stages of learning.
At both primary and high school levels in the country students are never taught anything aside from subjects and topics in the syllabus that feed their minds with western philosophies that never solve our perennial socio-economic problems.
Many boys and girls in secondary and high school levels are still oblivious to the fact careers can be carved out of the talents, abilities, proficiencies and skills inherent in every individual.
Instead we are taught from a young age that in order to have a good paying salary one needs to be hired.
We are never taught and prepared to face the real world problems by teaching and training about the importance of self employment and establishing of businesses that will boost the declining economy.

That is why most of our graduates are immersed in applying for job positions and fail to meet the required experience or skills relevant to the field.

A second and perhaps most critical point is that institutions of higher education are meant to produce salient and proactive thinkers and scholars who are able to balance theoretical and practical elements to tackle and solve the country’s socio-economic problems and bring about rational solutions that will make Lesotho better.
However in our case, certificates are viewed as a liaison into the corporate world.

Many people exit the colleges and universities yearning for employment without sufficient necessary practical, decision making and critical skills that will make them employable in workplaces. As a result, this blinds them to think productively and entrepreneurially thereby causing a tremendous problem for the economy.
Another problem is that many young people with brilliant ideas always meet a problem of lack of start-up capital to assist in starting their own businesses therefore killing the entrepreneurship that is required to mitigate poverty and unemployment.

To help curb masses of graduates who are only ready to take up jobs, from a young students at both primary and secondary level in the country should also be taught high level learning and applied skills such as creativity and innovation, critical thinking and problem solving, social responsibility and entrepreneurship literacy.
Content knowledge should connect and solve with the real world problems as this will enable students to connect what they learn in classrooms with the real world.

Similarly, higher education instititutions should go beyond providing education that is limited only to theory but should address issues related to employability of graduating students by applying more practical understanding and skills orientation that will bring them closer to the world of work.

To enhance their opportunities of obtaining jobs, some graduates opt for advancing their studies by enrolling for higher qualifications such as masters degrees, without prior work experience.
To many, it seems like the only way to earn a salary is by having several university certificates which unfortunately do not prepare one for the demands of the workplace such as experience, which is needed to appeal potential employers.

Young people should be equipped with entrepreneurial skills so that they change attitudes towards self employment.
One of the major strides aimed at improving and enhancing innovation is the NUL Innovation Hub that was formally launched by His Majesty King Letsie III on November 14, 2018 at Roma.
The Hub is a platform to produce and display various business models, self-made products developed by NUL staff and students.

Current projects in the hub include 21st Century furniture (made from Waste paper), incubators, Sebabatso Yoghurt factory that produces yoghurt and milk to mention but a few and many other appealing innovations.
These innovations are essential to promoting self-employment and job creations necessary to eradicating the twin sisters of poverty and unemployment in Lesotho.
More thought and energy should be invested by government in grappling issues such as boosting small business ventures.

There is a need for closer links between education system and the world of work.
As part of entrepreneurship programmes aimed at financially supporting business start ups and trainings in the country, BACHA Entrepreneurship Programme sponsored by BEDCO, Lesotho Revenue Authority and Standard Lesotho Bank offer training and financial support to unemployed graduates to start their own businesses.
It is an effort to eradicate unemployment and shape youth who are job creators that will ultimately boost the country’s economy.

Lastly, it is important to note that certificate on its own cannot bring deep transformational change that is needed to gear up our economy and bring about employment in this country.
Therefore it is essential that graduates look beyond their formal qualifications and usher change that is needed for Lesotho’s economy to thrive.

 Matšilo Nkabane is a teacher writing in her personal capacity


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