Picture: 123RF/VITEE THUMB
Picture: 123RF/VITEE THUMB

At a recent digital event the Sunday Times Gen Next, in partnership with HDI Youth Consultancy, focused on whether education systems have adapted to the aspirations of today’s youth. The discussion was moderated by Jacaranda FM’s Kenzy Mohapi.  Panellists included SABC Education commissioning editor Hanyani Sono, Rosebank College national graduate skills development manager Lillian Bususu, Publicis creative director Jonathan Dennis and learner representative Sachin Naidoo, who was also the 2019 winner of The Herald newspaper’s matric of the year award.

The SABC has a mandate to broaden and expand access to education via broadcasting platforms. The broadcaster provides educational support aligned to CAPS guidelines as well as support for tertiary education, Sono said. The SABC has provided online classes through the Covid-19 crisis to support learners via YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. In addition it has given learners opportunities to interact with educators to bridge gaps in their knowledge and address problem areas.

Sono said the SABC is open to suggestions regarding educational content and collaborations.

He said private schools have managed to provide more online education than public schools through the lockdown period because the private schools have better access to data and devices. Encouragingly, the government has announced proposals regarding zero-rating data for certain education platforms, though there is still uncertainty about when this will come into effect. “The Covid crisis has forced the entire education sector to relook at how teaching is delivered and how learners learn,” Sono said.

The role of educators has never been more critical: not only are they providing an education to learners, they also impart their life experience, said Bususu, adding the old maxim of:  “It takes a village to raise a child.”  She said: “I support the idea that a nation that does not nurture its youth does not deserve its future.” 

Education is the foundation on which the youth will base their ability to be employed, she said. However, more than a qualification, learners need to be developed to be work ready. “Education without the future prospect of employability is meaningless.” 

What the Covid-19 crisis has highlighted is the need for educational institutions, media such as the SABC and brands to collaborate more meaningfully to ensure all young people have equal access to educational materials and support rather than the current situation of each stakeholder operating in its own silo.

Brands, too, are moving towards a more collaborative phase and there is no doubt that they also could be doing more, said Dennis. The youth make up more than a third of SA’s population and is therefore an influential sector of the market. However, the youth will reject advertising messages that are not authentic. This means it’s vital that advertisers understand their audience. “When you create messages that resonate with the youth market it’s amazing what you can achieve,” he said.

the big take out:

Covid-19 crisis has highlighted is the need for educational institutions, media and brands to collaborate more meaningfully to ensure all young people have equal access to educational materials and support

Dennis’s agency, Publicis, has used the coronavirus crisis to accelerate the rollout of its online platform, Marcel, to employees around the world. The platform provides company and industry information as well as training modules and updates on Covid-19.

Online education has proved a different experience, conceded first-year university student Naidoo, adding that it has required discipline, focus, tenacity and flexibility. He advised brands to listen more to the youth and to collaborate more closely with them, potentially through student organisations.

For more information on the Sunday Times Gen Next Awards, click here.

For information on sponsorship and activation opportunities at the 2020 Sunday Times Gen Next Awards please contact Cortney Hoyland at hoylandc@arena.africa

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