- Published on Wednesday, 09 May 2012 18:29
- Written by Michelle October
Trevor Manuel was the guest speaker at a heated debate centred around contentious issues of education hosted by Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE)
On Tuesday April 24th UCT’s Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE), an international organisation aimed at empowering entrepreneur students, hosted their much-anticipated Think Tank, with guest speaker Trevor Manuel, Minister in the Presidency in charge of the National Planning Commission.
The aim of the talk was to engage students in debate about the future of South Africa, and how this future will be achieved. Zola Zingithwa, events co-ordinator for SIFE said, “We’re about finding solutions to things ... this is how you guys [students] can help.”
A central topic of the Think Tank was the National Planning Commission. According to their website, the Commission “is responsible for developing a long-term vision and strategic plan for South Africa”.
Tempers ran high during discussions of the educational system, which dominated the talk. One student demanded an apology from Manuel for the state of Outcomes-Based Education (OBE), the recently-scrapped educational system in South Africa.
One student, referring to the older generation’s impact on future planning and the temporal constraints facing the NPC, said, “That generation just has to go and die ... 2030 is ambitious ... it is much too soon.”
Other suggestions made by students included incentivising birth control, as well as the need for an internationally recognised schooling standard.
The second section of the event consisted of a speech delivered by Manuel, who outlined the goals and aims of the NPC, as well as the active role the youth has to play in shaping the future, saying that “all South Africans must own this”.
Many students enquired about the way in which the NPC will implement its goals during During the Q&A session. Manuel cited the need for active public involvement in the NPC, saying that “we have to learn to experiment”.
Questions on the education system were raised, to which Manuel responded by calling on parent-child participation to be strengthened, saying that “the education issue, in my view, is not a money problem”.
He also stated that “we need to incentivise poorly performing schools to do better”. On the question of OBE, Manuel drew on its success in other countries, saying that OBE was an implementation failure in South Africa.
During the Q&A session, Manuel stressed the need for the youth to become actively involved in the community and in shaping the future.
Speaking after the talk, one student, Mfondo Shabalala, voiced his dissatisfaction with the direction of the talk, “I would have expected the Minister to expand on huge issues…it was basically a reiteration of what every minister says about the NPC…every one of them wants to protect their interests.”
Sadia Dhorat, Corporate Relations Director of SIFE, stated that “this provided a platform for students to engage in important issues…and to realise that it’s actually up to us”.