n Africa Education Review - Unemployment in South Africa on the rise : are schools and universities to blame?




Some critics have placed the blame for the rise in unemployment in South Africa at the doorstep of schools and universities since they are the initial formal education providers. This article argues that the notion that initial formal education should prepare the youth for the job market overlooks the core business of schools and universities, and the fact that the job market is not static. The article contends that schools and universities are there to prepare learners for life in all its spheres, through the development of literacy, numeracy and critical thinking skills. It attempts to put into perspective the breadth and depth of initial formal education as a foundation for life in its entirety, not just for labour. It argues that the said skills enable the youth to access the wealth of knowledge locked up in texts that attempt to explain the wide spectrum of human experience and possibilities. These skills are taught within broad contexts of specific study fields that open job and service provision opportunities in the labour market. The article maintains that in cases where initial education institutions had adequate resources to accomplish their role, South African education has earned international recognition and its graduates have accessed job markets both in South Africa and internationally. It further identifies possible causes of the perceived current high rate of unemployment among the youth of South Africa, for example, the economic climate of the country and the legacy of inequalities in educational provisioning among others.

The article concludes that the popular criticism that universities operate as ivory towers has long become a cliché, since universities, apart from the conventional academic and professional qualification programmes they offer, also provide a variety of career-specific short programmes for people already in employment.


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