The Connected Classroom and High School Dropouts by Johan Allers. Ever wondered why youth drop out of school?
talkUBUNTU and The Dropout
The Connected Classroom and High School Dropouts
My name is Johan Allers and I’m driving talkUBUNTU.
In order to unpack this topic I want to share with you the findings of a Dutch study regarding the need for a greater emphasis on combined Study and Career development in schools. My motive is to shock and surprise you a little, to invite you to ponder the facts and the potential solutions.
According to the Dutch study:
Fifty percent of all early school leavers dropped out of school because they were unable to choose a specific field of study or a career/job direction.
In addition, Seventy percent of high school graduates find it difficult to make further study and/or career choices even when provided with some advice.
7 Billion Euro’s (R 700 000 000) : the cost and impact of these two factors on the Dutch economy
Is Life Orientation as a Subject Important?
Throughout the last few years, shocking statistics have led to a great deal of focus on the value of Life Orientation and Study and Career Development in Dutch schools. This has created something of a revolution in Dutch education.
This focus on LOB, a popular Dutch abbreviation and now a euphemism for Study and Career guidance has not only been repeatedly on top of the political agenda for years but has resulted in the development of a ‘connected’ educational system and environment.
The Importance of Connection
The Dutch have placed the focus where it matters most: the lack of understanding as well as access to information and knowledge about the labor market for young learners and students.
The Dutch business-industrial sector and labor market have become a structurally integrated part of the classroom. Dutch learners are given the opportunity to explore the career world, the real world, to help them to make motivated choices about their future. The results are clear!
This brings me to South Africa…
Clearly, South Africa’s educational priorities are different. I understand this even more so, in both heart and head, when I hear from organizations such as Project Dignity, a small grassroots organization in Johannesburg. According to Project Dignity:
As many as ten percent of young female early school leavers drop out of school because they do not have the means to purchase sanitary towels!
This not only highlights the indignity of poverty but illustrates the difficulties in bringing education to all.
There are many exciting, creative, and cost-efficient ways in which we can empower (as many as possible) our kids with the necessary information, knowledge and tools which they need to ‘grow’ their understanding of the dilemmas, opportunities, and chances which await them in their future. To help them to make motivated choices. To encourage them not to leave school and to complete or further their education.
Though not entirely applicable to South Africa, the Dutch study, at the very least, highlights the need for a stronger emphasis on Life Orientation and Study- and Career Development. These subjects are the glue that binds the whole together.
A solution based on African values
We can improve the value of our education by going back to two old African philosophies. As an African I cannot help but to view the Dutch model of LOB through the prism of Ubuntu and through, what I like to call the thoroughly contemporary African proverb:
“it takes a village to educate a child”
More than 200 thousand Dutch companies, representative of all industrial sectors, are today a part of the Dutch (school) learning environment. This represents a colossal investment in terms of knowledge, experience, and contact made available to young learners, in a variety of creative (experiential) ways. A massive enrichment of education – at a low cost!
Technology offers us the opportunity to harness the power and creativity of the village to build an educational environment to meet the needs and requirements for effective Life Orientation and Study- and Career Development, in our schools.
As founder of talkUBUNTU, I have devoted the last ten years of my life to the development of tools and materials to help build a bridge between the world of learning and the world of working.
We need to close the gap between the classroom and the factory. Teachers and school counselors understand that. They know that the three most important questions the student ask him/herself within the context of personal-, social, and professional development, are:
- who am I?
- what are my talents, skills, and abilities?
- what do I want for my future?
They also know that the student can only answer these questions within the context of a dialogue between :
- the student
- his school
- his family and social environment
- and finally, the real world, ie. the career world.
The development of a personal-, social, and career/labor identity can only take place within the context of the village.
talkUBUNTU is a social media learning village where education meets all our business and industrial sectors (the factory in the classroom) and civil society. Thus creating a space for exploration and learning to help orientate and navigate young learners toward their future.
We invite teachers and school counselors, schools, the business and industrial sector, as well as civil society, to become part of our village – to educate a child in the spirit of Ubuntu. We translate Ubuntu to the simple idea of sharing (knowledge, talent, creativity) to learn and to grow together. The factory in the classroom. The connected classroom.