Between April and June, Phil and I, spent 10 weeks exploring child-centred approaches to education around the world, approaches which seek to liberate, in Italy, the US, the UK, Israel, Australia and New Zealand. On returning to South Africa we intentionally set time aside to reflect on the school visits, and the many conversations we were privileged to have with school leaders, teachers, children and parents. Through re-reading our field notes, and the notes posted on Facebook during our travels, four key learning areas emerged which we felt were significant as we seek to establish a quality, diverse and affordable school in KwaZulu Natal.
Towards the end of August several opportunities arose to share the key findings from our research with over 200 people; parents, church leaders, educationalists and land owners, all under the banner of, ‘How to revolutionise education in one generation’.
Contextualizing any learning is always essential, and so, in feeding-back, we also considered what is particularly unique about the context of South Africa. One of the most striking features of South Africa is its description as a rainbow nation – that we are diverse!
In feeding-back, Phil highlighted how studies by the World Economic Forum show that the sooner / younger we embrace ‘difference’ the better, since exposure to different points of view stimulate deeper and more complex thinking, problem solving, flexibility and creativity – some of the skills the World Economic Forum suggests are vital to thrive in the 21st Century.
Phil went on to explain how in contrast to ‘multi’ and ‘cross’ cultural – which describes cultures that co-exist, but don’t necessarily meet, or when they do meet one dominates, ‘inter’ cultural describes a context where deep understanding and respect for all cultures is made possible through the mutual exchange of ideas, where deeper relationships develop, and where no one is left unchanged, because everyone learns from one another.
“Intercultural education… represents one of the essential guidelines for defining the quality of our future…the quantity and quality of his or her encounters and experiences will become increasingly important.”
Rinaldi goes on to highlight how the future will be found in, “…places where new forms of human coexistence, participation, and co-participation are tried out” – where it will be necessary to learn “unity in diversity, and…diversity in unity” (2001, p.45).
When you consider the context required for 21st Century skills to develop – namely diversity – then South Africa’s position within one of the most ethnically diverse continents in the world, means it really ought to have one of the best education systems in the world (rather than one of the worst education systems in the world (The Economist, 2017).
At gamechangers we have a vision of the future where equality and integration are at the heart of South African society, a vision which we see being fulfilled as a result of quality education being available to children from the age of three; ‘quality’ because our schools are diverse, and ‘diverse’ because our schools are ‘accessible’ – both in terms of their proximity to a range of socio-economic families, and – with a sliding fee structure – their affordability. In order to do so, we are looking to form ‘game-changing’ partnerships with businesses, charities, churches, and / or individuals, who are willing to add their expertise, finances, infrastructure or practical support to positively transform South Africa for all, for good.
“Let us put our minds together and see what life we can make for our children”Chief Sitting Bull