By Dumezweni-Ndweni

How to survive the Age of Information?

Today’s society can be defined as the Age of Information.  The access to information has never been this easy in the history of time. Presenting with it, a particular struggle where individuals push themselves to acquire more knowledge for progress. Schools therefore have become a crucial source of this knowledge; like the rain that nourishes seeds on the soil of our minds and harvested as hopes and dreams in our lives so is education. Now how to survive the newly informed society?  A simple question, with a simple answer, you do not need to outsmart everybody; just go to school, get educated and apply that knowledge.

When to apply the information acquired?

The tricky part is how to apply it? You can go to school and achieve remarkable grades and still end up on the wrong side of the informed/smart society. So then how do you survive the conditions created by inequality and other negative social factors? This is the era of smart phones, smart cars, smart everything and smart society; are you able to locate yourself in such a mix?

The answer to these questions is not easy, but simple. Knowledge is a lifetime investment, once you have it you cannot lose it; instead you stand to gain. It is like a currency that never loses its value. Here is a scenario: if you could possess the ability to predict the future, will that give you advantage over everybody else?…………. Indeed it will. You will be better prepared compared to many of us. Therefore information gives you that edge. But remember also that it need to be applied, otherwise it is of no value. The function of schools is to develop your mind by giving you access to information that shapes you to a cognitive adult; capable of making smart/informed decisions for further development of our society.

The impact on unemployment

Now consider unemployment which affects young people the most; according to the Quarterly Labour Force Survey of 2016 by Statistics SA, education plays a key part in the labour market. Those without matric contribute 59% to the unemployment rates while among the graduates unemployment is below 10%. And this is not to say every graduate is employed, but chances of a graduate entering the job market are much higher. So this is how information and knowledge ensures you survival in this age of information.

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Go to school apply yourself, because by doing so you are investing on yourself and as they say you reap what you sow in the end. Utilize all available avenues such as libraries, know something about everything; navigate the destination towards your dreams. Information is the new currency and you can see by the way education has turned into a high selling product. This is good but not to those who cannot afford private tutors, lessons and good quality schools. Many are marginalized since education is a commodity. If you know tomorrow it’s going to rain, you do prepare accordingly, same with life. Education helps prepare for whatever is on the horizon.

Lesedi Masooa a 22 year old graduate

We caught up with Lesedi Masooa a 22 year old graduate, now working for an ICT company Virtual Afrika Solution CC. Growing up in a disadvantaged family, she had challenges that could have hindered her progress in school; but as a goal oriented person she decided to work hard to achieve those goals.

“I would personally base my views on rural areas because I am familiar with; we have a problem of a shortage of teachers, especially those of the important subjects like Maths, Physics and others. This becomes a challenge as parents would have to take their children to better schools. What about those who cannot afford to? It’s rare to see officials from the DOE visit those particular schools”

Education is our rescue point

“Education is our rescue point; we can have talents and other things that don’t need to be studied for. But employers use education to limit the number of employees they take. The good part with having papers is that no one can take them away from you and they will certainly work out for you in the end. Even when we have natural talents, we need some sort of guidelines on how to make ourselves successful, that’s where education comes. So I think studying further helps although we might think that is just a waste of time. We need young minds in this country to transform it and make it a better place.”

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Compared to other countries

“We lack basic skills and knowledge compared to other countries. We lack financial support; those smaller schools in rural areas have to close down because there are no resources in the presence of demotivated teachers, this put a strain on our system. Education is the core of the country; it is what we depend on. So I think the state could try more in investing in education. They should not only focus on good performing well facilitated school, even children in rural areas have good qualities or skills if I may put it that way. We are tired of schools closing down with no teachers. Rather than the government funding that does not add much value that money could be given to the education sector.”

On education governance

“We need to have the cabinet of the DoE dedicated and have one objective, so I would at least see the suitable people who want to take SA to the next level. Create a more available financial assistance to school, especially the poor schools. There should be higher people in the DoE that create workshops where pupils meet and be made to see a clear picture of how education changes lives, in a way create a motivated society. Try to at least create more education facilities. There should be more job opportunities for educators”

On School Drop-outs

With school/college drop-outs our backgrounds count, we come from different places. Once we meet different people we get exposed to things we knew nothing about. That’s the first problem of being pressured, wanting to fit in a group and when things don’t work out we get ashamed of facing the society hence we think dropping out will do us justice. Other things might be getting pregnant, there is no one who can look after the baby so the young mom will have a full time responsibility. Also pupils might not be performing well, repeating grade by grade and end up giving it all up and not seeing the importance of even going to school.

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On free education

Well as much as it sounds good I don’t think South Africa is ready for this kind of change. The state is already failing the education system with tax payers money, there is lack of financial support already. These education institutions also have financial issues of their own. I don’t honestly think this will result well. I mean we all want free education, but then it is likely to benefit those that are not that desperate for it than the others. Other students have what they need all the time, with institutions and opening online registration, those who have access to gadgets will get first preference. So I think we need to come up with a more fair strategy.

Government school vs Private school

Well I don’t see a problem in taking my child to a government school, it depends on what kind of school it is. I myself attended a public school in high school and it was, still is the best. The teachers are so dedicated and it is education- oriented more than other activities. They were teaching us to the best of their efforts, that’s why it produces prominent people. So with public it just depends on what kind of school it is and how they do their activities. Private schools don’t fascinate me that much.