What businesses can do now to ensure top future employees: iLIVE
Recent ructions in the education system, such as the late delivery of textbooks, as well as the burning of books by agents provocateurs, teacher strikes and lack of qualified teachers should be more than a warning to the business community regarding the quality of graduates companies will soon have to employ. According to the Molteno Institute for Language and Literacy, it should be a call for business to get behind NGOs that are working to raise standards of education where government is failing.
"It's no secret that standards of education have been dropping for years," says Molteno CEO Masennya Dikotla. "It means tertiary institutions and even employee graduate programmes have been left to play catch up, preparing candidates for jobs they're not quite ready for. Where succession planning used to center on secondary or tertiary graduates at the earliest, companies now need to broaden their focus to potential employees who are still at school."
But, says Dikotla, the reality is no amount of internal development can rectify literacy or education issues resulting from a flawed basic education system. "Literacy forms the basis for further education and with textbooks being dumped instead of delivered and teachers striking rather than teaching, we can not expect to keep on producing top graduates," he says.
"This is something we as a society cannot afford to get wrong. And it may be government's role to educate our children, but if the business community is going to bear the brunt of poorly-schooled graduates, the best investment it can possibly make will be in ensuring children are educated. It is not right, but it's how it is and we've got to deal with it," he adds.
What can business do now to make a difference to the quality of education children receive?
For one, it can get behind organisations, such as Molteno, that are working to improve teacher education through programmes like the highly successful Gauteng Primary Literacy and Maths Strategy (GPLMS).
In terms of the programme, Molteno currently works with 92 coaches and 3166 teachers at 223 schools around the province presenting what is known as just in time training. "Learners who have been taught by teachers we have trained are now able to read with understanding at a level that they were previously unable to - and far better than their peers," says Dikotla.
Research has shown that it is critical for learners to achieve a certain competence in reading and working with numbers - the programme also introduces maths skills - before Grade 4. After this, without these skills their ability to perform in other subjects is severely hampered.
Molteno also has a number of other literacy programmes (for example Bridge to English and Breakthrough to Literacy) currently being implemented in schools around the country that are achieving similar levels of success.
Last month, Molteno also spearheaded the rollout of 160 library carts in rural villages across Limpopo, North West and Mpumalanga. The programme is part of Molteno's ongoing mobile libraries drive, backed by R20 million National Lottery funding and in partnership with the Department of Arts and Culture.
"While the government is working to stop the gaps in our education system, private institutions should take the lead in preparing a pool of literate, educated youth that will benefit the South African economy in the years to come," concludes Dikotla.