14 December 2020

“A mind that is learning is a free mind and freedom demands the responsibility of learning” – J. Krishnamurti. What is the essence of education in our modern society amid the emerging, unprecedented, present-day circumstances? On 27 November 2020, third-year students from the University of the Free State (UFS) not only sought to inspire the youth in Kestell and bring them messages of hope, but also actively engaged them on how to be equipped with the necessary skills that would help them surf through the rapidly advancing world economics and the changing labour-market demands.

The collaboration with other expert stakeholders created a platform for significant conversation about alternative skills training that is designed to successfully address the current economic needs, thus enabling education to thrive and serve the intended purpose, which would ultimately manifest in effective transformation within communities. The UFS Qwaqwa Campus Community Engagement office coordinated the teamwork, comprising the Free State Department of Social Development, Maluti TVET College, the Free State School of Nursing, AGAPE Foundation for Community Development, Japie Lepele Foundation, the Riverside Finishing School, and Advance Academy.

TVET education allows students to progress in fields that suit them best and at the same time acquire skills needed for the future world of work. Information Technology (IT) students and staff members shared encouraging testimonies of their education experience and employment. The academy presented their finishing school programme to encourage learners to complete their secondary education even after they have suffered some interruptions. Although there are currently many challenges facing education in our semi-rural areas – such as Kestell – that result in lack of access to education and insufficient resources, civil partnerships like these are supporting and enabling communities in their quest to find their own solutions.

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