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Beyond Grades: The Crucial Skills Required For Future Success

When considering the quality of a child’s education, one of the chief motivating factors when choosing schools remains the likelihood that a specific school will allow a child to perform at the highest possible level. One of the best measures to adjudicate this is to see how many As and distinctions the school produces annually in Matric exams.

This metric is a vital and objectively verifiable insight into the performance of students at a specific school, and the degree to which a school is committed to academic excellence, helping to tirelessly support students to progress to their best achievement. However, when choosing a school, parents should not only evaluate the school’s academic track record, but also its commitment to instilling and developing those crucial skills which will help students to become empowered and self-actualised in future, an education expert says.

“If it wasn’t clear before, it should be abundantly so now: in the knowledge economy, success in education and life requires substantially more than just academic performance,” says Desiree Hugo, Academic Head: Schools Division at ADvTECH, Africa’s leading private education provider.

“Schools must also strategically be focused on students’ holistic development, their personal growth, and the degree to which they are able to harness their personal strengths and unique talents – on top of ensuring they perform optimally in their exams.”

Hugo says it is imperative that schools focus not only on academic development, but also on global competencies, mastery of which is non-negotiable for future success.

These skills can be divided into five categories: Thinking Skills, Research Skills, Communication Skills, Social Skills, and Self-Management Skills.  Each of these key areas are broken down into specific focus areas and age-appropriate outcomes, which are continually revisited from Grade 000 to Matric, thereby progressively developing students’ abilities and enabling them throughout their educational journey.

“These skills should not be viewed as an addition to the academic curriculum, but instead as presenting a fundamental change in approach to teaching and learning,” says Hugo.

She says under the traditional approach, many students’ potential was not allowed to come to the fore, as too many schools amounted to little more than educational factory operations.

However, by focusing on core global competencies and the development of transferrable skills, young people are being empowered to live up to their unique potential and enter adult life armed with the abilities they will need to conquer life’s challenges.

“Consider what the world looked like 12 years ago. We can all agree it does not look like that anymore. Now consider what the world will look like in 12 years’ time when today’s Grade Ones leave school. We simply cannot know. What we do know however, is which skills will equip them to the greatest degree possible, regardless of what that world might look like.

“Considering an uncertain future, skills like resilience, empathy, critical thinking, and problem solving are clearly crucial components of a holistic education.”

Hugo says it is therefore imperative for all role-players in a child’s education – schools, teachers, parents, and communities – to embrace the need to move forward in the way education is viewed, rather than remain fixed in the old-fashioned paradigm of assessment and reporting as the only measure of a student’s success.

“Performing well academically clearly remains essential, in terms of accessing scarce study and employment opportunities locally and globally. However academic success on its own is no longer sufficient to position one successfully for an uncertain future. A holistic education today requires much more than excellent test and exam performances, it also requires preparing children for the future demands, and therefore we need to embrace additional new measurements of excellence in education.”