Education in South Africa today is fraught with challenges. Teachers and learners struggle due to limited resources and tools, resulting in a general falling of standards. According to Paul Fick, divisional managing director of Jasco Enterprise, decreasing the national pass requirements to 35% will not solve this problem and it has a ‘knock on’ effect as matriculants face the challenge of obtaining university entrances.
“Even when they do ‘make the grade’, the ‘gap’ between school and university standards becomes apparent, further making it more difficult to pass,” says Fick. “Action is required from corporate South Africa to assist government in its efforts to improve the level of education in South Africa. Corporates need to start thinking and investing in their future workforce to ensure that South Africa as a nation remains globally competitive.”
Raising the bar
This means raising the bar and re-instilling a sense of pride in learning and an attitude of excellence. “Corporate South Africa also needs to start equipping the youth with the tools for a better education. These tools are not only to assist in combating unemployment, but also to ensure that more competent graduates are employed to strengthen our economy.
Technology solutions are key enablers of these sought after outcomes. However, government alone cannot meet the educational needs of our future leaders. Corporate South Africa has to become more involved,” says Fick.
Fick believes that incorporating investment into education technology into an organisation’s CSI initiatives is not only vital for improving education, it also benefits organisations directly as they can be assured of more qualified, better prepared future employees. “However, simply donating money is no longer enough.
Education technology initiatives need to be carefully planned by specialists, applied correctly within schools, and accompanied by continuous teacher training initiatives to empower educators to embrace new methods of teaching and inspire learners to further their education.”
Solutions that work
Although there are ongoing efforts to incorporate technology into schools, what is lacking is a solution that is specifically designed for educational facilities. “The Critical Links Education Appliance is the world’s first purpose-built education server, a ‘school in a box’ that enables up to 3 000 students to be connected on a single server and delivers an enriching educational experience with one-on-one e-learning to develop skills in the 21st century.”
As a holistic solution, the Education Appliance addresses planning and implementation challenges, since all of the tools that are needed are built in to the central server and students and teachers need only a basic end-point device to access this. “The rugged Classmate PCs that are part of this solution have been designed to withstand the tough school environment: they are spill resistant and highly robust.
Intricate security has also been incorporated into the laptop style devices to ensure that should the devices get stolen they can be rendered useless, making them unable to be sold, which will prevent the massive losses due to theft. The Education Appliance, together with stimulating customised educational content developed by local partner LearnThings, offers a complete interactive learning solution that engages and empowers learners.”
Fink believes that getting the necessary technology into schools is of the utmost importance, and it is up to corporates of all sizes to get involved to ensure future success for students and business.
By sponsoring a classroom, with hardware such as the Education Appliance as well as teacher training to bring them up to speed with 21st century techniques and devices means businesses can help schools to access technology and teachers to become more passionate, inspiring learners to partake in their education and their future.