By Elarm ChalusaKindly allow me as an educator to share my thoughts on how best to use education as a tool to alleviating unemployment and poverty in our motherland.
Expand tertiary education
Recently, the state announced her intention to erect some 82 secondary schools across the country.
One cannot but assume that the state should have a plan of how to absorb the-would be school leavers in new tertiary institutions.
This be said because the current institutions are both inadequate and beyond the reach of most eligible school leavers. Surely, they should not overstretch the waiting lists for admission.
Strategic tertiary institutions
Our tertiary institutions should be designed strategically to increase tertiary institutions specialising for instance in the following fields:
(1) Agriculture – because it already presents a huge potential to not only create sustainable employment but to create food supply both for domestic consumption and export to rake in much needed forex.
(2) Technology – this is the tool to speed and efficiency arguably in every endeavor covering all industries. We are on a good path. Let us do better. How? See (Introduce Computer Studies at Secondary) below.
(3) Drama, Poetry, Grammar and Music– this will help to beef up our movie industry which has taken too long to develop to ‘international standards’.
Besides, the prospects of job creation in this and related industries is promising. Just see what we have achieved in the absence of such training.
(4) Engineering – targeting manufacturing, working with metals, construction and designing.
This would serve as a catalyst for establishment of industries by players in the manufacturing sectors by the likes of Tech Giants and Engineering firms as the local market will have the skill levels required, legal framework and infrastructure on which to build their investment.
Re-engineer our curriculum in order to birth a paradigm shift from raising children with’ go to school, pass examinations and get a paid job’ to ‘get an education that equips US’ to ‘create solutions for the present and future generations’. How so?
Introduce computer studies at secondary level
We have done well to introduce examinable computer studies at Junior Secondary.
Let us go a step further as soon as possible to introduce the same at Senior Secondary – obviously more advanced.
This will not only enrich our secondary school graduates but increase prospects of innovation and employability upon exiting the secondary education.
Entrepreneurship as a core subject
Introduce Entrepreneurship as a full subject and not as a topic in the likes of Commerce. This will increase the depth of subject content as well as instil purpose and sense of self-reliance in our pupils at a very early stage in their upbringing.
This will help the paradigm shift alluded to above. We need this.
Equipped with entrepreneurial skills, CEEC and Out of School Youth Grants will be used to better effect by more informed recipients resulting in sustainable jobs – an important stride towards poverty reduction.
Promote agricultural science subject
Offer incentives towards teachers, pupils and schools in order to promote this very important subject in our schools. If well managed, schools may start producing towards the nation’s food basket.
Besides, this industry employs most Zambians and teaching the subject to many if not all the pupils would yield returns to the learners, the schools and the nation both in the short and long terms.
Reduce schooling period
Since the digital age has revolutionised our education system, with knowledge no longer obtainable only from the ‘learned teachers’ and textbooks, but abundant and accessible on the click of a button, our children are exposed to a lot of ‘learning’ even outside the classroom.
A lot of computer programs available help children to learn most subjects on their own – at least for those who can access these resources.
For those who cannot – who are the majority, the state can come in and provide these in schools or their substitutes to enable mass education to younger children. What is implied?
Reduce admission age for primary school
Consider reducing admission age for primary to as low as 5 years. They can learn effectively.
Reduce primary schooling
Reduce primary schooling from 7 to 6 years.
Reduce senior secondary
Reduce senior secondary from 3 to 2 years.
Many fellow teachers, including the author, have managed to complete the senior secondary physics and chemistry syllabi in 2 years. Let’s see if it can work for other subjects and reduce the duration.
Why so many reductions?
(1) they can start learning earlier.
(2) they are able to pass grade 7 examinations when they attempt in grade 6.
(3) many have managed to effectively and efficiently deliver on the syllabi in just 2 years.
(4) the state would save on the amount spent to educate each child from primary to secondary education.
(5) attrition rate due to behavioural ‘teenage’ problems might be reduced as the learners would be too young to venture in destructive tendencies (speculative).
(6) besides it would be nice to have a huge crop of young graduates taking center stage in driving our nation forward.
Somebody somewhere decided enrollment age, duration of various education levels et cetera. Such can be amended after careful evaluation without compromising the quality of education or disadvantaging our learners at any level.