Thank You For Your Contributions - Summary of Week 4

Dear colleagues,

Just a note to thank you most sincerely for your contributions to our discussion. I do hope that as with me your thinking has been challenged and stimulated by the wealth of knowledge and experience in the forum. I look forward to meeting as many of you as possible at the conference in September. For those of you unable to attend, I hope we can remain in touch. My email address is barry.dsouza@walkingamonggiants.co.uk

Summary of week four:

General Comments about Youth Employability:

Employability touches most of the youths that are completing their first degrees. One of the constant challenges is the request for experience a company ask for as they are advertising for Jobs. The request being 5 years and more experience. This needs to be addressed as currently most Youth are left unemployed in Uganda.

One solution was offered:

Agencies concerned with skills development should include work-based learning in their programmes so that trainees can have their first hands on experience which can help them as experience to quote in their job searches.

Employers are reluctant to offer subsidies for workers – for example for travel, meals and soap. There is also a general lack of support for new employees which causes frustration. With new recruit salaries being below par, this is causing some young people to reject offers of employment.

One solution proposed is for universities to encourage graduates to become entrepreneurs. For this to occur there needs to be financial assistance (in a form of long-term loan scheme) in place.

Can Entrepreneurship be Taught?

  • Some are born with the entrepreneurial skills but for others there is a possibility to inculcate those abilities easily.
  • Students should be given a chance to learn from resourceful entrepreneurs by way of speeches, presentations and workshops. There are also many written resources that students can refer to. Such entrepreneurs should be capable of assisting students into work. Through for example contacts and / or opportunities.
  • In some places entrepreneurship is taught with and emphasis on theory rather than on skills development and this provides little value to the jobseeker.

Which Are the Entrepreneurial Skills that can be Developed Through ODL and How Best can this be Achieved?

  • Entrepreneurial skills that can be developed through ODL include strategic thinking, curiosity, time management, problem-solving, efficiency, networking, communication. This can be best achieved through learning activities that involve one or more of these at a time. Activities should aim at learners taking responsibility for their learning.
  • We should think creatively and give some scenarios/case studies for the students to progress towards a certain goal . “Once we did some non-credit, non-technical modules for this purpose and it was so successful. Later I heard that they had discontinued it mentioning that there was a issue with funding”.

The Changing Landscape of Education - and the role that COL can fulfil in this space. (discussion continued from week 2 – education is a market – what do others think?)

  • Two key critical question that thinkers should be asking about re- designing curriculum & qualifications frameworks are:
  • What should be packed in the curriculum& qualifications framework suitcase for 2030?
  • What should be dropped from the suitcase for 2030?

As advocates, CoL can be influential in driving the discussion towards all Commonwealth thinkers, about being open minded regarding the Journey ahead:

  • Yes- reducing employment is possible
  • Yes- accessing learning resources is possible
  • Yes- inclusive and empowerment is possible
  • Yes- connecting people to the right digital platform is possible.
  • Having the right attitude & aptitude towards change is important for the journey ahead.
  • To curb youth unemployment, the key players should be learning institutions and the industries that absorb the graduates. The curriculum should be developed by the collaboration of learning institutions and industries with government as a stakeholder.
  • The basic issue is with societal mindset. Everybody wants their child to be an engineer or a doctor as these types of ‘sophisticated’ jobs will earn more. As there is more of a demand in these subjects, college fees are inflated. COL can make efforts to cut short the rat race towards the ‘sophisticated’ job oriented education and try to establish dignity for (raise the profile of) the value of a skills based education.

How can online distance learning (ODL) 1 and technology enhanced learning help to alleviate some of the challenges you have identified? (Please refer to the thread ‘The discussion thus far - summary of week one’). Continuation from week 2

“Study centres are often staffed by those who are part time employees of the ODL institution. My experience says that instead of outsourcing the task of delivering the programme, to these centres, regular interaction, monitoring and especially maintaining a reasonable teacher- learner ratio could help. I also feel that learners’ attendance in academic activities organised at study centres should be compulsory”

Further Strengths and Challenges of ODL

“Every learning process have lot of negative aspects. But I feel ODL gives more freedom for the learners and what i meant there was that due to the freedom ODL gave me, I was so relaxed as a learner and this cannot be found it a full time degree programme where the semesters and terms are jammed and student are not allowed to free their hands and minds.”

Student attitude towards ODL is the problem. Most of the undergraduates at OUSL (Sri Lanka) think that they are kind of ‘left-outs’ with respect to other full time degree programmes. Yet ODL degrees give more freedom and opportunities for the students to grow and improve their knowledge.
It is common to have some limitations in everything; In the education the problem is that the available resources are not enough to provide opportunities for all the students. However, with the assistance of the private sector that can be overcome to a certain extent.

This is a huge problem with attitude which most people do not see that there are professions and businesses that give more financial gain as well as social status.