“Through my education, I didn’t just develop skills, I didn’t just develop the ability to learn, but I developed confidence.” Michelle Obama
Last week Saturday, we (our social innovation enterprise- Carisma4U ) had our inaugural STEM conference and it was a wonderful event of brainstorming, learning and collaboration. We had one of the beneficiaries of our STEM bootcamp speak to participants about the importance of STEM to him. We work on real world applications of the skills we emphasize to them and one of the skills we emphasize is communication. We talk about skills they need to be future ready. This information is key because research has shown that when learning is made relevant, retention is higher.
This is the direction in which education should go for our students in Africa. Teach how to behave during a job interview, communication and presentation skills, and how to dress for a job interview or internship. Academic education is important but guiding them to also having key skills that create future readiness in their careers which is longterm to ensuring employability or the ability to be successful at whatever paths they decide upon. All along we have focused on subject knowledge but neglect areas like public speaking and teamwork.
Bucking the old model
We need to get more schools to explore new learning models to incorporate soft skills. To empower more students to become better communicators, problem solvers and global citizens.
After our STEM bootcamp warrior gave his presentation; several people came up to us to marvel at the confidence and clarity on equipping our students with STEM skills. During his presentation, he didn’t read verbatim from the PowerPoint presentation but backed it while addressing the participants of the conference. There were over 200 people present and this teenager spoke to them from his own experience. Confidence is a critical part of the soft skills lesson, alongside with leadership, and emotional intelligence.
We desire other African nations to emulate what Rwanda has done; Rwanda has made the work readiness curriculum a huge part of the learning — called Akazi Kanoze Access — in all secondary and vocation technical schools.
Akazi Kanoze, which means “work well done” in Kinyarwanda, has trained over 20,000 students with soft skills to make them employable. Students work in teams, a group of four students, five students, they mingle and playact various roles.They hope the program will mitigate the national unemployment gap, which stands at 13.2 percent according to their National Statistics. Most employers who take up these students, report that they like them because they’re on top of the work needs, have a positive attitude and work hard.
This curriculum makes it necessary for teachers to shift their understanding of what learning entails. This redoing of learning enables educators to be more engaging. There is a lot of interaction by the students.
In Senegal, 30,000 students, 250 schools in have been selected by the government and to carryout a pilot to infuse soft skills, entrepreneurship and financial literacy in a program called Improving Work Entrepreneurship Performances (APTE). So far more than 1,000 teachers were trained in 2017.
We need to fill the gap for our students by giving them the skills to cope in the real world and navigate through the myriad of choices that life has.
Let’s truly get our students future ready on all fronts!
Adetola Salau; Educator / Speaker / Author/ Social Entrepreneur / Innovator
She is an Advocate of STEM Education and is Passionate about Education reform. She is an innovative thinker and strives for our society & continent as a whole to reclaim it’s greatness. She runs an educational foundation with the mission to transform education.