Education, the economy and society: NMI and CIPSET's approach


Enver Motala and Ivor Baatjes

The Nelson Mandela Institute for Education and Rural Development (NMI) at the University of Fort Hare and the Centre for Integrated Post School Education and Training (CIPSET) at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University are research institutes and members of a larger consortium of research organizations called the Education Policy Consortium (EPC). The EPC has received a research grant from the Skills Development Fund administered by the Department of Higher Education and Training.

Following the publication of the Green Paper for Post-School Education and Training (2011) the NMI and CIPSET have been developing their orientation to the post-school system. This is based on a framework which regards education, the economy and society as integral one to the other. Put another way, the relationship between education and economic development is intrinsic to the question, ‘What kind of society do we seek to develop?’

This point of departure relates particularly to the exclusion of young adults from education and the economy – because access to meaningful education and training continues to be difficult for such young adults and because unemployment engenders social and economic exclusion. This approach is expected to yield insight into the triadic challenges of inequality, unemployment and poverty and generate ideas about how to deal with them.

Entry into formal labour markets through the attainment of employment in the private or public sectors of the economy has become increasingly unrealisable for millions of South Africans. There is simply not enough demand for jobs regardless of the quality of supply.  By implication education and training must relate not only to the diminished possibilities for formal employment but also to socially useful jobs outside the formal labour market.

Many hundreds of thousands of South Africans, disproportionately women in the most disadvantaged communities of our society, are employed in such activities: in care-giving, rural agriculture, the education of children and collective projects such as cooperatives and other community based initiatives. They undertake such extremely important jobs with little or no external support but give meaning to their lives by courageously ‘volunteering’ themselves and their services for society, while engaging in their economic livelihoods and means of survival.

There is a long way to go to provide a systemic answer to the critical role that education could play in such communities, especially considering how many unemployed post-school members they contain.  NMI and CIPSET are working on educational programmes and projects which support such communities. Some of the complexities and possibilities have already been clarified as a result of the participatory research methods employed and the community based discussions, engagements and workshops which together have aroused the communities’ interest in this work.

Confronting the false assumptions that pervade discussions about education:  Enver Motala and Ivor Baatjes. CIPSET/NMI Occasional Paper, and

Education, the economy and society: [Editors: Vally S and Motala E] With several contributions from CIPSET/NMI Faculty,  UNISA Press

Enver Motala is a researcher at the Nelson Mandela Institute for Education and Rural Development at the University of Fort Hare.

Ivor Baatjes is Director of the Centre for Integrated Post-School Education and Training at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University.

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The Research Bulletin on Post-School Education and Training is prepared by the Directorate: Research Coordination, Monitoring and Evaluation. Enquiries or contributions may be directed to: Lesego RamoseTel: 012 312 5657 Email: Department of Higher Education and Training, 123 Francis Baard Street, Pretoria 0001