We all pass time thinking of ways to improve ourselves and develop new skills as we progress from a major education institute to the next. It could be secondary school to university or something similar. After a year of tough semesters and school terms, we manage to get the grades needed to pass that level. We sit back and take a deep breathe. I did it….
A scary thought crosses our mind. All the hard work , the sacrifices we made, the sleepless nights and other struggles we went through to get a decent grade. Was it enough???
No I am not talking about whether we got enough grades to make the pass mark in our school or whether our grades were high enough that our ranking was amongst the top five students in class.
I am talking about the intimidating realisation that even after all that effort of passing one’s grades ,we still might not be good enough to achieve a similar status compared to the students in other schools and other countries (bigger,older,more equipped and developed institutions) .
What then if we happen to be the african child from a less fortunate and developed country in the continent. How much more of our chances at developing ourselves reduces to something close to zero?! Get educated, get skills, and land your good job? Was education for a better life all a lie.
No level playing field truly ever existed in life.Despite that, if there is a way to empower young African students to stand out amongst the few best and have their chance at international success shouldn’t it be shared? Are there personal skills they can develop to contribute to their own economies?
African educational systems cannot realistically be changed to emulate those in high rankings such as South Korea, Canada Japan,Finland,UK and Netherlands.Small steps can be taken towards enabling students in Africa to develop their employability,skills and find innovative ways to keep up with international standards?
WHERE TO START:
- KEEP UP WITH TECH: All millennia’s need to understand that this is now an important requirement.Gone are the days of listing MS Office skills.What special factor can you bring to the table? Be aware of latest technology trends and adapt to using them effectively. Keep up with international news,become a social media guru-the whole world is waiting for you! Share your opinion, defend it and accept criticism. Develop your general business knowledge. If you started a small business, would you have the competency to sustainably develop it? For the non-IT grads, what do you list under computer skills? If your answer is something like ‘proficiency in microsoft office'(word,excel, powerpoint :/) you should immediately get yourself familiar with office 365 and cloud computing as a whole. WHY? because the cloud is considered the next generation tool for everyday productivity. The way of doing business has already largely shifted.KEEP UP! Think of the unique circumstances a business finds itself in along with the innovative approaches like Mobile banking,Mobile health and Mobile agriculture that exist. Take advantage of the unique situation your community s in and develop it.
- PRACTICE: This comes in 2 parts. Develop your skills especially if they are unique.This involves a lot of trial and error.Make the mistakes you must and learn from them. Take advantage of free online courses. (Coursera,Khan Academy, Open Culture Online Courses,Udemy, edX ,Academic Earth…). Develop the confidence in your ability to deliver. Believe in yourself and the value you bring to the table.
- DEVELOP REAL WORLD VALUABLE EXPERIENCE: Get yourself involved in different career building experiences. It doesn’t matter what sort of activity it is. If you are unsure of what experience you would like. Try to volunteer in different fields you find interesting.Take up internships to develop your career. Develop your work ethic and professional identity.
- ENJOY DIVERSITY: Put yourself in situations where you are surrounded by people of different cultures and get to know more about them. Learn some of their language, accept their beliefs and religion.Travel to a new destination. Educate foreigners on your culture.Eat foreign food. Respect the different lifestyle foreigners have and learn to love the unique presence they expose you to.
This post is not suggesting how to improve education systems in Africa, it is about engaging students take initiative to do more for themselves.To find ways to bridge the gap of the education and skills competence mismatch.To answer the question of what next after formal education. To add value to African society and personal development.To share and discuss the skills graduates need to develop and alternative ways to do this.