New Era (Windhoek)

31 May 2013

Namibia: Education Systems Should Change - Geingob

Windhoek — Prime Minister Dr Hage Geingob has urged e-learning Africa 2013 delegates not to turn the conference into a spectacle for hallucination, but rather to engage in fruitful discussions that will lead to tangible results that will impact on Africa in a reflective way.

Geingob said a hugely important topic for Africa, as well as young people today is how to develop an entrepreneurial mindset at a young age, as the education strategies in place today often fail to address the needs of the labour market and future jobs.

Europe and Africa with its large youth demographic face an unemployment crisis and it is vital to change the mindset and to champion entrepreneurship, vocational training and civic training instead of the narrow focus on purely academic education.

"We must equip young people with skills to be productive people in society. There is a need to change views on age and ensure that more youth are involved in the policy and decision making process, since there are not enough young people involved in policy and business decision making and therefore their interests are not being adequately represented," he said.

The 2013 8th e-learning Africa conference 2013 in Windhoek is co-hosted by the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (MICT and the Ministry of Education. Geingob said tradition has great value in society and helps establish the link between various generations. "Therefore we need to preserve what's good and unifying about our traditions, but safeguard against lack of progress due to certain traditions," Geingob said.

He told the more than 1 500 delegates comprising mainly of e-learning experts, practitioners, researchers and stakeholders from approximately 90 countries that with the complexity of environment, technological advances, climate change, world recession, natural and other disasters - there is an increasing urgency and necessity to change and innovate in order to sustain our economies.

He said the complexities and demands of the 21st century make change an absolute imperative, adding innovation in the 21st century is so crucial for growth and development and links to knowledge society development. He further said African nations need to move away from conservative and traditional approaches to learning and teaching, which he says are prevalent in most education systems and focus on the requirements for knowledge economy and society development.

"There is room for the dimensions of both learning innovation and traditional practice to co-exist under the African sky. Africa as a continent presents unique opportunities for innovation and adaption. However, there appears to be little investment in creative and contextually rooted approaches that can stimulate "out of the box" thinking and pedagogical actions in our education systems," said Geingob. He said the current pace of change around the world is staggering and education systems are unable to keep pace with this phenomenal and accelerated growth in the ICT sector.

He therefore proposed a redefinition of education and skills development systems, as the exclusion faced by millions of young African people and the social consequences are of major concern to both policy makers and the public. "There is truly much for us to deliberate on. It is crucial that we are not left behind by the neckbreaking pace of modern day development. This is a time of great risk, but also tremendous opportunities. The challenge is for us to capitalise on these opportunities and ensure that we transform our economies into engines of growth and innovation," he concluded.

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