Investing in education key to development

Investing in education and the right skills is vital for the country's economic growth, development and competitiveness.

We are all eminently aware that competing in today's globally interconnected, and almost daily, shifting economy is a complex affair.

Our countries not only need advanced education - both technical and vocational - it needs dynamic, fast paced and ever-evolving skills, and also, a flexible workforce that can adjust to these rapid shifts in demand, Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe said on Tuesday.

He was speaking at the World Economic Forum workshop under the theme: Shaping the Future of Education and Skills" in Davos, Switzerland.

With the world undergoing a Fourth Industrial Revolution, Minister Radebe said people need the right skills.

Making an example of the jobs that have driven rapid economic development in the past, from agriculture to light manufacturing, which are now disappearing, Minister Radebe said jobs of the future will be ever more technology-intensive, requiring a higher-skilled workforce.

To access these jobs, people will need skills to be able to analyse, adapt, problem solve, manage and work in an increasingly connected way. There is therefore no more time to lose and this discussion comes at a very opportune moment.

Education systems must be oriented towards producing skills and young people who have both strong foundational skills as well as specific skills for jobs.

Countries must also learn best practises from each other like with the introduction of literacy and soft skill development modules in schools. He said they would make a huge difference in early childhood development and might help address the large numbers of school-goers who drop out early, especially in African countries.

Another intervention, Minister Radebe said would be government's role in regulation, standard setting, monitoring and evaluation (M & E), and the financing of skills development.

Always evaluate programs, and feed these lessons back to policymakers so that they can make informed decisions about improving the design and implementation of programs. The effectiveness of the skills development programs I have mentioned above has been driven by strong M & E systems.

He suggested that stakeholders should play a critical role at policy level and be involved in decision making at the institutional level.

Source: South African Government News Agency