21 June 2018 Photo Oteng Mpete
Education researcher tackles realities of Fourth Industrial Revolution
Dr Makeresemese Qhosola recently engaged audiences in New York at the American Educational Research Association’s Annual Conference.

The current research of Dr Makeresemese Qhosola, from the University of the Free State’s (UFS), Faculty of Education focused on a broad theme of accounting and its alignment to the Fourth Industrial Revolution. She is passionate about it because the role of accounting has evolved over the years in response to ever-changing market demands. It evolved from the First Industrial Revolution, which focused on the size of a factory, machinery and the labour force, and now it is concerned with the looming era of artificial intelligence and the internet of things.

Tackling the present for future solutions  
Dr Qhosola’s research is important because it interrogates the past to find solutions for the future. “The curriculum of South Africa is still challenged by the imperatives of the Third Industrial Revolution which saw the automation of the accounting process and other business processes in isolation from each other. This challenge is born of historical factors that are still inherent in the contemporary, like poverty in most South African communities, and a lack of infrastructure and resources that supported this industry and demanded learners be taught automated accounting like Pastel.
 
“Even though learners are mostly exposed to the basic knowledge and skill of accounting from schools, many of them seem to be dysfunctional when they join the world of work, due to a lack of knowledge and experience of the computerised systems,” purported Dr Qhosola.
 
Her research methodology is the Participatory Action Research (PAR) approach and is supported with the use of the Critical Accounting Research (CAR). “I use it as my lens of choice for framing my project, because its purpose is to ensure the use of accounting does not represent a certain interest at the expense of others, especially marginalised groups,” said Dr Qhosola.
 
Future of accounting looks good
“The question remains: ‘How do we better prepare ourselves for this revolution that seems capable of rendering many accounting jobs redundant?’ We must thoroughly prepare our students for the job market after the completion of their studies.” 
 
Dr Qhosola owes her recent success to Prof Loyiso Jita, Dean of the UFS Faculty of Education. “He initiated a mentorship programme for black women in 2017 and it has created a platform for me to go out and learn more,” she said. She also holds former UFS Dean of Education, Prof Sechaba Mahlomaholo close to her heart, because of his continued mentorship and support through the world of academia. 

International recognition and achievement 

Dr Qhosola was recently invited to the American Educational Research Association (AERA), in New York. The AERA strives to advance knowledge about education, to encourage scholarly inquiry related to education, and to promote the use of research to improve education and serve the public good.
 
The conference provides an opportunity to learn about new developments and current issues that require the attention of researchers. It is also a good platform to meet educational proponents and theorists from across the globe. “We read and use their work almost every day and never get an opportunity to meet them and really interact with them,” said Dr Qhosola.
 
A proposal acceptance from AERA is a recognised disciplinary achievement. The AERA conference is a highly competitive peer review process because there are 12 000 to 14 000 proposals a year that compete for a slot on the conference programme. These numbers include both experienced and beginner researchers. 


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