There has never been a more decisive moment to rethink the way we teach in the 21st century, based on how students should be learning in today’s technology-driven world and how we should be preparing them for the workplace of the future.
The ever-increasing percentage of the South African population without employment or access to economic opportunities is an ongoing serious societal challenge. According to StatsSA, “The rate (of unemployment) has been persistently high over time, with the youth (aged 15–34 years) being the most affected by joblessness”.
Enter the Salesian Institute Youth Projects – an education institution that has improved the lives of South Africa’s vulnerable children over the past 110 years by providing education, vocational training, life skills development and emotional support. Their Learn to Live School of Skills is the only independent school of skills in the Western Cape and one of only seven schools in the country invited to speak at the T4 World Education Week virtual conference between 5 – 9 October 2020.
The school employs the contemporary teaching methodology of project-based learning (PBL), which has essentially shifted the school to a system that adds value, life skills and employability potential to South Africa’s marginalised youth. With the theme for the event being ‘Learning Today’, the Learn to Live School of Skills will see Professor Tom Ryan sharing his expertise on project-based learning, whilst other themes throughout the week will cover topics such as ‘enhancing employability and life skills’.
Ryan says that the days of the uninspired classroom environment are gone. He continues, “Our role as educators is to prepare our young people for the working world; to do this effectively in this day and age requires finding interactive and engaging ways to teach, promote creativity and innovation, and build up the personal growth and self-esteem of learners”.
Project-based learning is a learner-centred approach that involves actively exploring real-world challenges and applying what they teach us in a dynamic classroom setting, effectively creating better work habits and attitudes toward learning, as well as increasing the long-term retention of skills. An additional important outcome is that students learn to work in a collaborative community, taking on social responsibilities.
Ryan then took the opportunity to comment on being an early adopter of project-based learning, “We have learnt that in an ever-changing world we must constantly be adjusting strategies to suit generations in transformation. Being a trailblazer in this field in South Africa puts us in good stead to be a catalyst for positive change in driving a future-ready generation that ultimately produces economically active citizens. Education goes far beyond just getting a job. In the words of Tata Madiba, ‘Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world’.”
The T4 World Education Week is an effort by 30 civil society organisations led by educators for educators, sharing and learning together to promote a higher and more equitable standard of education across the globe. This collective of 100 schools is gathering in support of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal on Quality Education (SDG 4).
You can register for the Learn to Live School of Skills presentation on Friday 9 October at 10am (GMT)/11am (SAST) on Eventbrite. Or find out more about their involvement here.
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