Understanding the Problem

Africa is sitting on a youth population explosion ticking time bomb. In Africa, more than half of those children that start school, don’t finish. What happens to that 50 percent that don’t finish? They are largely lost to society and will never make a meaningful contribution to the economy and assist with poverty alleviation. They become ghosts that are unemployable in any worthwhile vocation and are doomed to a life of scraping by to make ends meet or turning to crime.

Many were forced to leave school due to circumstances beyond their control, such as having to walk too far to school, not having enough money, not being able to communicate in English, pregnancy, bullying, illness, handicaps, etc. Many want to get back into mainstream society but have no way of doing so.

Without an education, they are doomed. Many education providers are involved in offering tertiary courses to students that have not passed grade 8 and are barely literate. They are taking shortcuts that don’t adequately equip students as they don’t have the basic thinking skills that are developed throughout high school. This means their cognitive abilities are insufficiently developed to process and implement the skills or tertiary education they are receiving. In addition, their English language skills are too poor to fully understand, benefit from and implement what they have been taught by English-based tertiary skills courses.

We know that what a student learns in grade 8, forms the foundation for what he/she will learn in grade 9. What he learns in grade 9, forms the foundation for what he will learn in grade 10, and so on. So each year’s learning is required as a building block for the next year, and each year builds upon what was learnt in the previous year. This demonstrates that you cannot skip one or a few years, and there are no shortcuts. Otherwise, why would we send our children to high school and not simply bypass it and send them straight on to tertiary education? This is because a child’s thinking and cognitive abilities need to be developed over years in line with their maturity levels, and this cannot be overlooked.

No one has a solution for the lost half of students that have dropped out. Granted a percentage will never seize an educational opportunity, but at least half would. That means millions of students, both children and adults, are desperate for a solution.

Most African schooling systems, unfortunately, doesn’t cater for students to re-enter high school after having to stop prematurely for any of the reasons outlined above. If a student has not attended school for a year or more, he cannot get back into the system. He can’t simply register at his local high school and write his final school leaver exams. They won’t accept him and if they did, they would require his grade 11 report. Let me repeat that, there is NO pathway for a student that has left school prematurely, been absent for a year or more, to get back into the system! He is locked out forever! This is compounded by the fact that after age 15 or 16, most students do not legally have to be in school. The Departments of Education, therefore, do not have a mandate or legal requirement to accommodate learners older than 15 or 16. So the real need is for those learners aged 15 or 16 and above.

So we can summarize the problems that need to be solved as follows:
  • There is a massive need for those children lost to the schooling system to be educated, firstly at a high school level and then a tertiary level.
  • They need to have their English proficiency improved in order to be successful.
  • The Departments of Education structure and curricula do not and cannot cater to these students, especially after age 15.

A solution is needed that caters to all these requirements and combines it with technology, as we are now in the Information Age and all students need to be equipped to deal with the internet, personal computers, tablets and cellphones for business, and for learning.

This highlights the first problem of trying to educate millions of young adults that would otherwise be lost to making a meaningful contribution to society.

The second problem is creating sustainable employment in traditionally underprivileged rural and urban areas. There are very few opportunities for employment in these areas, and this proves to be a major ongoing challenge.

Have you ever thought about why our children aren’t being adequately prepared for tomorrow’s economy? The current schooling system hasn’t evolved. It hasn’t kept up with an ever changing modern world dominated by technology.

Welcome to the world of Pocket Classrooms!