News / Opinion

Thamsanqa Mkwanazi
2 minute read
17 Jan 2017
9:07 am

We need an education system that identifies a need and fills it

Thamsanqa Mkwanazi

It has never made sense to me why a pupil with the potential to be a world-class chef has to struggle with a subject such as Chemistry.

Thamsanqa Mkwanazi.

Man-hours. That is the only way I can describe the way it felt when my better half, myself, our helper and the twins all had to cover textbooks and so-called exercise books. As if that was not enough, pens, pencils and pretty much everything else had to be labelled. Let me start this story properly, at the beginning.

So, the twins started Grade Four this week, which, as most parents know, means they are in the next phase of their education and they now study a million subjects that require a million textbooks and a million coloured pens, all of which need to be lugged around in expensive schoolbags with wheels.

For some reason, school now means my wife and I need to do all the work, which I find quite unfair, for the record. We spent countless man-hours doing all the administration around school, and, while it was tedious, it was an eye-opener.

Kids these days are studying what I consider to be more relevant subjects, such as Life Skills, which can be a whole lot more important than something like Maths or Science.

Please, do not get me wrong. I am not saying that mainstream subjects such as English or Geography are not essential. All I am saying is that I am satisfied that we are starting to look at life and tailoring our education for it, instead of trying to tailor life for the education that we were teaching our kids.

It has never made sense to me why a pupil with the potential to be a world-class chef has to struggle with a subject such as Chemistry when they can be spending hours behind a stove, perfecting a signature dish. (By the way, I can hear your smart comment from here, as you boldly declare that there is chemistry in cooking!)

Not all of the kids who are in school today are going to end up in “respectable” fields as doctors, pilots, engineers and lawyers, although I am not too sure how respectable lawyers are. We need an education system that identifies a need and fills it. If you are not convinced, watch this.

For example, I learnt that there are entrepreneurs out there who charge for covering school books.  Right from primary school, parents, guardians and teachers should be able to see that a particular child excels at a particular “off-centre” activity and then engage them in a possible career.

Did you know that there are entrepreneurs who charge for covering school books? Of course, I learnt of this a day after we spent all of those man-hours. And what about individuals who earn a whole lot more than any professional can hope for?

Mattress testers, embalmers, personal shoppers, food scientists (aka ice-cream tasters), and body-part models are just some of the jobs that pay surprisingly well. And then you want these kids to pass maths literacy?

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