The world of digital has broadened the play and fuelled greater expectations as it shifted the traditional perspectives around time and space.
The proximity to the customer is incrementally getting shortened, while the expectation for service leans towards the now. Those who lay claim to the gift of intuition have even pondered the veracity in the statement that the world as we know it has come to an end. But it has, in the process, ushered in a new one that is full of possibilities and diverse opportunities.
Never has there been a better time for the re-imagination of one’s destiny. The dexterity to meander the future is not and should not be exclusive as it was before. The pervasive nature of digital has declared the world open for all to play in. The ubiquity in the tooling available for learning and self-empowerment has the potential to create heroes, from anywhere in the world, exponentially.
“The Self” re-imagined, as the new nexus
Digital capabilities warrant a new focus in the discourse about learning and development, especially as it pertains to the enablement of personal transformation opportunities. Barriers previously created by physical geographies, limited choices due to fixed curricula spanning set durations, delivered over a legacy pedagogy, are being broken down.
Traditional education is fast changing course in the context of a rapidly changing context. The prevailing canvasses of recognised archetypes in the various academic disciplines are getting stretched as digital delivers more and more variability. Choices in education are growing by the day.
Challenging the dogma of qualification
The traditional building blocks of mainstream faculties are being complemented by more stylised, succinct knowledge capability blocks, in pursuit of a customised experience and orchestrated results. The pursuit of desired outcomes shapes the curation of content, underpinned by what is deemed to be foundational.
The incumbent need not follow a path that has been traversed before but can in earnest begin to create their own path and chart their destiny in pursuance of their aspirations. Choices in learning and development, in both content and mode of delivery, have opened up. Herein lies the opportunity for the attainment of the African dream.
The attainment of the African dream hinges on the need to demystify the ontology of literacy. The inability to access traditional learning and development capabilities should not condemn the continent to the stone age. The dominance of the first world in the development of globally recognised content should not relegate locally configured programs into academic irrelevance.
There is a lot to be said about the need for Africa to drive her own educational imperatives. And, indeed, her prosperity.
Navigating the transformation journey
It is time that the virtues galvanised through historical trials and tribulations are harnessed to unleash a kind of energy that will reinforce a sense of pride and identity that permeates the mother continent. This resolve should culminate in an elevated determination to win in the new era. Participation in the attainment of the African dream needs no longer be constrained by geographies. Digital coupled with the zeal to play an active role in the success of the continent will mitigate the effects of the ominously persistent loss of talent to the diaspora.
The prevailing situation brings to the fore both the opportunities and the responsibility to reshape the framework of solutions through digitally infused strategies that will address the skills dearth that permeates through the continent. Africans can again participate in the advancement of Africa, from wherever they are.
The conceptualisation, design and delivery of content whose relevance is cemented through duly considered localisation programs, can now be a democratised continental play. The proximity of the content producers to the consumers should no longer be a barrier to learning.
The framework for the vision
True success starts with the belief and confidence in the African capabilities. A lack of exposure to formal education should not be deemed an inherent lack of competence. Ageist prejudices that prevail in educational echelons should not be afforded the light of day. Learning and development should be seamlessly exposed for consumption by all and sundry. Because digital makes it possible.
Qualifications need to be coupled with a desire to excel and the adoption of a mantra of continuous self-improvement. The competencies developed should be founded on relevance and applicability. An appreciation of raw input and effort to attain prescribed outputs must be superseded by positivity in outcomes. The supply must meet demand. The richness in configuration options afforded by digital brings these possibilities to the African doorstep.
Fixed-term degrees must be complemented with in-the-flow learning, following an agile construct that allows for a timeous recalibration of content when demand falls out of sync with supply. Fixed naming conventions of qualifications should take on more descriptive formats. Africa must develop its own lexicon around literacy which will serve her purpose.
Prerequisites to success
The continent must come together and set up digitally rich platforms for learning, born in the cloud, with extensibility capabilities that will attract values-based ecosystems that will be founded not only in richness in diversity, but also a commonality in purpose.
A body of African visionaries must be rallied to be active contributors and curators of the content and de facto authorities on what constitutes a qualification. This could take the form of an agile, fit for purpose, staggered approach. The fundamental respect of the sovereignty of the participating states must be maintained, while a solid appreciation of the differentiated strengths across the different domain must prevail. This should be cemented by the willingness of the participating states to recognise stewardship where excellence is domicile.
A federated continental qualifications recognition framework that will redefine the accreditation process and recognise the variability in curricula must be established. Flexibility must be built into the nomenclature, within a set of acceptable guardrails. A continuous performance evaluation framework that will celebrate and leverage early successes, while trapping and remediating failures during early must be rolled out. A sustainable win-win partnership framework with Big Tech must be formed.
A nimbler digitally infused approach to learning would help stem the tide of the current proliferation of economic exclusion in the continent through ubiquitous access to relevant skills-development capabilities. A particular focus in ensuring relevance in the content would close the gap between the demand and the supply in the engagement of graduates, and also afford opportunities to those who would have fallen victim to a systemic exclusion from traditional institutions due to a lack of what constitute the basic requirements to participate. But everybody must be allowed opportunities and access.
By Tau Mashigo, Head, Centres of Excellence and Practices – Group Technology and Operations.