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Does it mean I am learned after my degree has been conferred on me?

Of late I find myself wrestling with rather odd questions; questions such as “Will I be ready for the real world after I have graduated?”, “Does it mean I am learned after my degree has been conferred on me?”, “Will I able to tender my resignation should I find the environment in which I work unfulfilling?”

Hard work and fun is what life is all about. Wouldn’t you agree? (A picture of Dumirocks)

Of all the students I feel sorry for, are those in my position. As the year draws to a close; for many people that means the preparation for end of year examination is in order, but for graduands the stress is mounting as they prepare for departure to the ‘real world’. Graduands find themselves wrestling with the idea of going to a place of employ or taking a gap-year in the exotic islands of Caribbean. The truth is these people are suffering from nervous conditions at this stage of their lives.

What really bothers most graduands is whether they are ready for the corporate world and the responsibilities that life after college offers. What will I be doing everyday of my life as a graduate and a professional. Many people who walked this path tell me that I am going to spend a better day at the premises of my employer, that sounds fantastic so long as I will grow both personally and professionally.

I did not initially plan to moan and nurse my anxiety concerning my prospects after the rector has given me a tap o the head and conferrers that Bachelor of Commerce. But what worries me is whether the University prepares its student adequately for the world outside college? As much as the health of the bank balance must always be favourable in order to enjoy the luxury of life, I hold a view that suggests that graduates ought to be socially responsible citizens, one which endeavors to critically challenge the status quo.

I wonder how will those charged with managing universities will react when I say that it is the university’s imperative to develop graduates that are highly sought-after, who are multi-faceted, are able to engage openly and think constructively and independently? Universities are academic institutions and as such students main focus must be centred around academics,getting good grades and to a lessor extent downing a glass of beer as I am doing in the picture embedded on this post. However, what benefit does it hold for a society if universities produce students who can simply read, learn and regurgitate information? I believe that university’s goal is to produce graduates that can critically analyse and question what is being shoved to them as established truth.

What does being learned mean? Does holding strings of degree define a learned man? What if he is irresponsible and self-centred with no interest on what is happening around him?

Politicians are quick to pronounce that educated people are needed to serve the needs of the economy (forget that most of these politicians academic credentials is questionable). A good friend of mine (@JustSaySid) holds a view that says we must educate people so as to prepare them to be full participants of democratic processes in this South Africa and that extend to debating a proposed green paper to doing a submission in either houses of parliament. Did I also mention that he wants to work for the Parliament of the Republic? This must be one patriotic chap! I, on the other hand honestly think that education can and should be able to inform people to discern reality from political ramblings, to appreciate life more by giving us the power to read for pleasure, write poetry to the standard of Pablo Neruda, compose music better that Beethoven or try to understand the world better and so on and so forth and stuff like that……

In all seriousness, to me education means development. Personal development and engagement in intellectually-charged conversations that seek to challenge those I interact with on a daily basis. After a number of years I have left this historic centre of learning named Stellenbosch University, I will be glad if I can be defined as learned by the virtue of the traits that I am an agent for social change, a responsible citizen, and individual who think independently, counter-culturally and open-mindedly. Learned I will consider my self…

But that’s enough from me. What do you think it means to be a learned individual?

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Posted by on October 20, 2012 in Leadership

 

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The future is random, but can a pass mark be randomised?

Wake up all the teachers time to teach a new way…..when you teach the children teach em the very best you can. ~ Harold Melvin and the blue notes.

If you teach the children, teach them the very best you can!

If you teach the children, teach them the very best you can!

Don’t you find it mediocre that 30% merits a pass mark in the education system of this country? To be exact, to pass Grade 12  – which is a school leaving level in South Africa –  you will need to obtain a minimum of 30% for three of the subjects  written and 40% for another three. That is approximately an average of 35%. At UCT a 35% merits what is termed ‘duly performance refused or DPR, in Stellenbosch a ‘Kwal-nie’ will decorate your academic transcript and in any other institutions of higher learning you will just not  get ‘predicate’.  A DPR, A ‘Kwal-nie’ or ‘do not qualify for predicate’ is what guarantees a pass mark in matric. A rather traumatizing discovery to say the least!

Who is at fault? who is to blame?

It is a worrisome factor that many learners drop mathematics at Grade 12 level for Mathematical Literacy, at the counsel of their teachers of course to push up matric pass rate. In her recent talk in honour of the late freedom fighter Solomon Mahlangu, Dr Mamphela Ramphele expressed a rather poignant view on the issue of learners taking Mathematical Literacy at Grade 12 level. She said to quote her verbatim “Maths literacy… what is that? It’s worse than the arithmetic I did under Bantu education.”

Why is South Africa randomising the future of the young like these? Why do we accept this to prevail under a new democratic dispensation. Doesn’t this inspire laziness? I completely understand that the future cannot be predicted hence its randomness, but can a pass mark be randomised? I do not see how can an average mark of 35% warrant a pass under any normal circumstances?

With such a mediocre standard it comes as a surprise to myself that we expect the economy of South Africa to grow, flourish and prosper yet we do not produce intelligent human capital to work it. The naked truth of this trajectory is that this pass mark is mediocre, deceptive and it consigns thousands of those who achieve it to a life of hopelessness, helplessness and holds no promise to access higher education, employment nor a better life.

Our standard to pass matric is way too low, it is mediocre in every sense of the word. Do we expect these pupil who pulls off an average of 35% to go on pursue glittering careers or become newspaper columnists? Are we joking, are we kidding the poor? Are we gambling with our children’s future?

It makes me question whether these people who draft these policies do listen to music? Maybe the day they take a deliberate decision to do so a more pragmatic solution to this educational dilemma will surface. When they do decide to amend the current pass rate requirement, I urge them to listen to Whitney Houston’s ‘Greatest Love of all’ and take nothing but this:

I believe the children are our future
Teach them well and let them lead the way
Show them all the beauty they possess inside
Give them a sense of pride to make it easier
Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be

Who do we hold accountable in this situation?

In conclusion, our high school education system is mentally-agonising both in character and in form!

 
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Posted by on March 26, 2012 in Politics

 

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Entrepreneurship and education are not mutually exclusive events……..

Mdu E Gama

Dr Mdu Gama is a chairman of MduGama Investments and also South Africa's first Doctor of Finance. (picture appropriated from: City of Johannesburg's website).

For far too many years we have come to convince ourselves that education and entrepreneurship cannot happen at the same time. Entrepreneurship is a process of taking an initiative to start a new business, and similarly education is the process of learning, and acquiring new skills. Developed countries around the world invest greater resources on programmes that focus on entrepreneurship. We cannot dispute the fact that entrepreneurship is a cornerstone to a stable economic growth. It is for this reason that entrepreneurship, innovativeness and competitiveness is the paradigm we must embrace.

Many upcoming entrepreneurs or start-up entrepreneurs show the determination, the will, innovativeness, energy and drive to start world-class businesses that will offer world-class products and services. These are indeed good qualities and prowess to have as an entrepreneur. However, the worrying factor is that many tend to discount the value of education [academic education]. With education one can learn invaluable skills that cannot be acquired anywhere other than the institutions of higher learning.

The maxim that exists among most start-up entrepreneurs is that education and entrepreneurship are mutually exclusive events; they in fact believe that entrepreneurship is the only way out. People like Dr Mdu Gama and Adrian Gore invalidates the myth that “education and entrepreneurship is a mutually exclusive event”. These two entrepreneurs are highly successful in their businesses, (with Gore at the helm of Discovery and Gama running his own investment firm) and yet they are very educated.

On the other hand, as aspiring entrepreneurs, we might convince ourselves that education is not a necessary route to be a successful entrepreneur. They use worn-out examples of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, to support their claims without acknowledging the fact that such entrepreneurs are the exception. Dr Mdu Gama says that the number of entrepreneurs who have made it without formal education has been decreasing over the past two decades.

In the knowledge economy we are now living in, education has become an imperative commodity in society. It is a knowledge economy because many things are centered around the accumulation of knowledge, information and generation of new ideas. This was further supported by Dr Ntokozo S Mthembu, when delivering his commencement address at Tshwane University of Technology, he said then that:

Some of you must define your niche in this global community. It means you must by necessity adopt an entrepreneurial approach. Be a visionary, be a leader. Create Value! View life as education, education as life and grab the opportunities available to you. Take advantage of those initiatives established by government to further your ideas, your education and entrepreneurship.

As an aspiring entrepreneur and you ignore the reality that education may give you the competitive advantage, would be irresponsibility of the highest order. Whatever you do, however you do it you dare not stand still lest you be overtaken! Or in the words of Nelson Mandela – “I dare not linger, for my long walk is not yet ended”.

 
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Posted by on May 24, 2011 in Business

 

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TedX Stellenbosch….Ideas control the world

It is still fresh on my mind, because it just happened not so long ago. It was on the 13th of August 2010, when I attended TedX Stellenbosch. TedX are independently organised events licensed under TED.

Well it is a conference-like event where the curators of the event invites influential people from all walks of life. The speaker ranged from business people, academics and philanthropist. It was well attended by at least 550 people who share a common belief that  “Ideas must be shared”. It such an important event in a sense that people can use ideas to change the world. Furthermore, the attendees are exposed to innovative ideas and cutting-edge thinking in the areas of leadership, social responsibility, technology, education and governance, and to learn from people who have demonstrated success despite the unique challenges they faced.

On the opening of the event the video was played. Unfortunately I cannot get hold of it. But yeah it basically  says the following:….

Ideas control the world. They are the single most powerful force in our universe, and yet rarely do we openly test, celebrate and develop them in a communal setting. For ideas to impact the world, develop into innovations, ripple through communities and spread between cities, we need to tell their stories and rediscover a child-like state of wonder.

After digesting this quote, there I comfortably sat on my chair as I listened to awe-inspiring speakers. The speakers were equally good, but hey truth needs to be told, I was moved by Yusuf Randera-Rees, his entrepreneurial spirit inspired me to unleash mine. For Africa to change, people need to attend ideas stimulating events like this one, for I have said before, ideas change the world.

As for me I was greatly inspired, I believed more than ever that Africa need me to serve her unselfishly. Some speakers proved to me that the social work that I am doing  brings more positive change in society. I will continue with my social responsibility project for I believe that for Africa to prosper, people must serve her tirelessly.

Yes, it was TedX Stellebosch, It was an awesome event. For stream of photos visit http://www.flickr.com/photos/tedxstellenbosch/page10/.

It was such a life changing experience. My special thanks goes to the organisers of the event Eeke de Miliano, Gareth Pearson, , Thibaut Marquis, Pieter Botha, Mariska du Preez, Catharine Powell, and Hugo Van Vuuren. For they have choosen me amongst hundreds of applicants.

Ted…..Ideas worth spreading!


550 TEDx Vuvuzelas in Stellenbosch…

“Ideas control the world. They are the single most powerful force in our universe, and yet rarely do we openly test, celebrate and develop them in a communal setting. For ideas to impact the world, develop into innovations, ripple through communities and spread between cities, we need to tell their stories and rediscover a child-like state of wonder.” Opening of TEDxStellenbosch, 13.08.2010

And so, after countless hours of skyping, sponsor cajoling, speaker prepping, and logistic lesson-learning our intrepid team brought the TEDx energy to a packed auditorium of more than 500 South Africans and visitors from across the world.

It was our goal, especially after the very successful soccer World Cup, to share exciting African concepts and jumpstart the exporting of ideas rather than minerals and skilled workers. Our talks were situated at the intersection between novel ideas and “makers;” and were rooted in Africa but applicable to the world. How could we not, after the World Cup, co-opt the Vuvuzela – global symbol of passion and excitement – to champion ideas and transform a traditional musical hall into a stadium of ideas 😉

// We were fortunate to draw from a rich local talent pool of entrepreneurs, researchers, student musicians, conservationists and leaders. Talks were divided into locally relevant themes: Storytelling, Innovation, Nature, and Community (Ubuntu).

Gustav Praekelt: The CEO and founder of the Praekelt foundation fascinates you with his quest to make Africa healthier through cellular technology.

Leslie Rochat: The Executive Director of AfriOceans Conservation Alliance shows you how to rethink the shark.
Peter Willis:The Director of the Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership awes you with the story of our future.
Yusuf Randera-Rees: A Rhodes Scholar and philanthropist inspires you with the Fellowship of Entrepreneurship.
Kumi Naidoo: The International Executive Director of Greenpeace astounds you with his vision of a greener world – video conferencing in!

Mugendi K. M’Rithaa: The first design doctorate at CPUT demonstrates a new way of meeting social needs through Design With Africa.
Miller Matola: The CEO of Brand South Africa persuades you with his story on how to showcase your country.
Barbara Nussbaum: A writer and visionary motivates you with the spirit of Ubuntu.
Dion Chang: A trend analyst shocks you by embracing a new world order – video conferencing in!
Marcel Mare: A research expert surprises you with insights on improving the African stove.
Nox Makunga: A PhD at Stellenbosch amazes you with the potential of a medicinal wonderland in our own backyard.
Vibha Pingle: The President and Founder of Ubuntu at Work enthuses you with her drive to bring employment to thousands of women all over the world.
And thanks to very creative and hard-working interns we had a surprize guest from the anti-slavery Not For Sale Campaign join us fresh off the plane from the States.
David Batstone: President of Not For Sale, a professor of Ethics at the University of San Francisco, he is also founder and president of Right Reality, an international social venture firm.

// TEDxStellenbosch 2010 | With Africa

Africa is a continent with extreme constraints and disparities but also with under-utilized opportunities and unique cultures. In a post-recessionary world of uncertainty and scarce resources, we will depend more on local communities, require rapid technological progress, and see our fate merge with that of mother nature. Perhaps now more than ever, the world can learn from Africans–from our methods, our cultures and the unique blend of circumstances that inspire our resourceful nature. After all, “if it can work in Africa, it can work anywhere.”
The intersections and contrasts between African and Western history and thought fuel a growing international conversation. Increasingly, ideas are challenged, adopted, and exported from the so-called developing or dualistic economies to the first world. The idea economy is open, and no longer flowing one way.
What better locale than Stellenbosch, South Africa’s oldest university town and meeting point for African and European cultures industry, startups, multi-cultural art, interdisciplinary science,  and viticulture, as well as being home to some of the oldest games we play.
Now it is your turn. Plant the seed of an idea wherever you can, and water it with passion and energy, so that it may one day sustain us all.
A warm and special thanks goes out to our awesome partners – …XYZ Design and mdp Marketing – and student-team from Stellenbosch, Cape Town, and Harvard Universities, for fostering connections and idea sharing. Finally, thank you to the TED team, and TEDxBoston folks for helping us to build bridges and learn from each other.
Organizers
Eeke de Miliano, Gareth Pearson, , Thibaut Marquis, Pieter Botha, Mariska du Preez, Catharine Powell, and Hugo Van Vuuren.
 
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Posted by on September 12, 2010 in General

 

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Tertiary education… why?

As the recession draws to a close, tertiary education begins to reveal its greater importance. “Tertiary education is not important and is a waste of a precious 3 to 10 years, and as matter of fact academics must be paid peanuts”. Well this is true for hopeless people with dull and gloomy dreams. When you go to institution of higher learning, you don’t only enrich your intellect, but you also learn invaluable skills such as communication, bargaining, organisation and leadership. People who are well-educated are better off than those who are not. Educated people get lower insurance premium, high credit limits, and they get attention wherever they go, let alone the level of trust that these people posses. These are few benefits that graduates enjoy.

Nelson Mandela once said “Education is the great engine of personal development. It is through education that the daughter of a peasant can become a doctor, that the son of a mineworker can become the head of the mine, that a child of a farm worker can become the president of a great nation. It is what we make out of what we have, not what we are given, that separates one person from another”.

Tertiary institutions teach students to think beyond academics, it forges innovative thinking. Innovative thinkers come up with business idea that eventually creates 100 of jobs in the economy. People like Bill gates, Mark Shuttleworth and Mark Zuckerberg founded their businesses through innovative thinking while they were sitting in lecture halls.

By the end of the current recession, many people with tertiary qualification will be head-hunted by major corporate. Companies that have stripped their headcount will be desperate for staff as they begin to grow again. As this happens it means that educated employees will be able to bargain for unique work arrangement and benefits.

Awaken your gloomy dreams, knowing that the power of studying is within you!!!

 
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Posted by on May 7, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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