Wednesday, 27 June 2012

An Educational Journey -- the reality of School education in a South African School

Having spent most of my career in educational environments fulfilling various roles, a year and a half at the Innovation Agency inspired me to get back into the game. Being away from an educational environment has surely given me some food for thought. The invaluable lessons I have learned while at the Innovation Agency have equipped me to look for opportunities in education... and to be an active innovator!

Innovation in education... an interesting concept indeed, and one that often focuses on technology. In fact, educational technology is often on agendas around the world -- also in South Africa. Linked to innovation, it was a topic of discussion at an event organised by SAINE and hosted at Gijima on 26 July 2012. Under discussion was the Action Plan for 2025, aimed at realising education in 2025.

Like other countries, considerable attention is given to education. This is especially true in the South African educational system, since we expected so much from our educational system after the democratisation in 1994. Alas, the one blunder after the next in our educational system meant that dreams and aspiration were shattered. For example, a whole 12 years -- a complete school career -- has been lost to an experiment with OBE.

A number of questions are constantly in my mind: Are we anywhere near where we should be -- or could be? Do South African schools in any way manage to equip pupils to be responsible 21st century citizens? Are South African school leavers in a position to face the world and realise their potential? Are our pupils taught in a way that will also instill the skills they require to compete in a highly competitive global economy?

This then is my journey. I am adjusting my relationship with the Innovation Agency so that I can go back to a former school where I have once worked: Allen Glen High School. I have a five-year plan to bring about change from within. My aim is simple: Find a way for an ordinary government school to introduce a blended learning approach to teaching by incorporating appropriate technological solutions. This sounds simple enough, but of course will require a considerable effort - and a mindshift.

I will continue to chart my journey, share my thoughts and experiences, and above all ask for guidance, ideas and ways to solve the to-be-expected problems. It surely is not the first time a govenment school embarks upon a journey to embrace ICT. We can therefore avoid unnecessary mistakes. The realisation that we are dealing with pupils and their expectations is an underlaying course for action. This also serves as a reminder that we may not leave anyone behind. One child lost, is one too many. My personal view, however, is that one unsupported, ill-equipped teacher is a recipe for disaster, since one teacher affects numerous pupils. The ripple effect becomes immense, as is evident in the current South African educational landscape.