SA's education system is still failing our young people

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Applications for spaces at our tertiary institutions at the beginning of every year have shown that capacity for post-school education and training in our country is substantially inadequate.

We see winding queues of desperate young people at universities and technical, vocational education and training colleges vying for very limited spaces. Thousands of them don't get absorbed into the system.

This is worrying indeed. We cannot afford to waste so much talent, energy and potential in our young people. It is an established fact that the biggest number of the unemployed in our society comes from this group. This is a recipe for trouble and danger.

As it stands, 48% of South African youth between the ages of 15 and 34 years are unemployed and about a third of those, between the ages of 15 and 24, are not in any employment, education or training. It has been demonstrated that the chances of employment for young people with a tertiary qualification is higher and it means we reduce youth unemployment and break the cycle of poverty.

If we are serious about confronting poverty and inequality in this country, we should attend to the matter of youth education and training. Our education and training regime must equip young people with productive and technical skills.

Firstly, we will need to redesign our education system from being purely academic, to one that incorporates vocational training from Grade 9 to 12. It is a fact that many children are forced to pursue the academic stream even if it is clear that they would do better in a technical or vocational stream.

We also need to improve the quality and standard of our colleges' training facilities and lecturing personnel.

This would save us enormously on costs related to brick and mortar infrastructure, such as lecture rooms and student residences, as some students would study from home.

This way we would be able to cheaply reach and train more people.

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