Knowledge creation and Paradigm Shifts take centre stage at Future of Learning Conference

TEACH South Africa attended The Future of Learning conference which was held at the Birchwood Conference centre on the 10th and 11th of April 2017. The conference looked to bring the best and brightest minds in the education space from the private and non-profit sectors. The purpose of their meeting would be to take an introspective look at the current state of affairs in the South African Public Education System, the various innovations and innovators within the education space and to take a speculative look at how education and learning will evolve to meet the demands of an unknown and uncertain future.

From the onset, it became clear that the demands placed on those seeking to make a contribution to the education of our children are quite high. During one of the panel discussions, it was revealed to delegates that of the 26 000 public schools, only 5000 could be classified as functional. And it was also revealed that these functional schools were mainly Quintile 1 and Quintile 2 schools. The majority of the schools, which are dysfunctional, fell in between Quintiles 3 to 5. What this means is that the poorest children still do not have access to quality education to this day in South Africa.

One of the topics to be discussed at the conference was teacher development. TEACH South Africa was very honoured to have our Executive Director, Mr Richard Masemola, as one of the panellists on the topic of teacher training. Mr Masemola pointed out that one way to improve the quality of education that learners receive is to improve the quality of teachers and therefore the quality of teaching and learning. And one way to improve the quality of teachers is to train them properly, to adequately capacitate them so that they can be caring, confident and resourceful facilitators of knowledge.

It was incredible to note the amount of knowledge being created and shared at the conference. All of the delegates seemed to have some new perspective or idea to share; some revolutionary thought or idea that would change the education landscape and the country forever. It is a commonly held view that in order to bring about major change, there has to be purges and drastic institutional reforms; however, the delegates at the conference chose to see it differently. They chose rather to see change as coming from an accumulation of minor changes and shifts in mind-sets. Shifting mind-sets and attitudes from negative to positive was seen as crucial to the success of the efforts aimed at educating our children and empowering them for the future. The idea proposed by the delegates is to start small, at the beginning and make people feel like valued members of the education system; to empower the child and make them a life-long learner in the School of Life, to give a parent the opportunity to play an active part in their child’s education and to make schools an integral and functional part of a community.

The conference also provided the opportunity for organisations and individuals to network. It gave people the chance to get to know each other, build relationships and explore possible partnerships.  Given the calibre of attending delegates; only positive and progressive partnerships could ensue from the encounters. One thing is certain though; there is a movement being started by the people and for the people. The people in this movement are not intimidated by the seemingly mammoth challenge that is providing quality education for every South African and the African child. These people believe the status quo can and will be changed. These people are agents of change and they believe that Africa has a bright future ahead of it and this future begins with the education of the African child.

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