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Basic education and youth development in Africa: interview with Dr. Funiwe Njobe

Following a career change from Nursing to Social Development Studies, Dr. Funiwe Njobe lectured in Development Studies at the University of Zambia and later worked for Land and Agriculture Policy Centre as a Research manager there. She was seconded to the Department of Agriculture to develop a Post-Apartheid Model of Agriculture Education. Later she worked for Kagiso Trust developing, a model for building Social and Economic capacities of rural and peri-urban communities. She is currently working as an entrepreneur rolling out her latest model for trading posts for producers in rural and peri-urban communities that are marginalized from main stream markets.  Her PhD was on Education, looking at comparative education Systems in South Africa with particular reference to Missionary systems and Indigenous systems.



The interview is concerned with Basic education and the implications of its impact on youth development and employment in Africa.

Often learners are taught as though their limited environment is the end of the road rather than being prepared to be able to navigate their world and beyond. Learners ought to be exposed to a curriculum that has a potential to catapult them far beyond their confining environments for further education and training. They should be able to develop the confidence and anticipation to explore educational opportunities in other parts of Africa.

If food security is paramount, what is the significance of food security, health care and moral upbringing in a child’s educational development for a desirable future?

Food security and proper nutrition are an important component of basic education if children are expected to learn and be attentive in the class room. This is very important if their educational achievements are to be assured and extend their likelihood to study anywhere outside their own environments.

Moral upbringing, which should be the responsibility of both the home and the school, is significant in that it contributes to the success of the learners in staying in school and not falling by the wayside, derailed by drugs, alcohol and other forms of delinquent behavior which are a reality in many African countries even though to different degrees.

Which infrastructural development do you think will further enhance a good educational foundation for this development?

Proper infrastructural development should be encouraged where, for instance, the concept of schools without walls is encouraged. This may remove the fear of learning in that this kind of environment allows the learner to feel freer to explore other opportunities of exploring the learning environment without fear of restriction.

Proper infrastructural development include adequate sanitation and availability of running water affords the learner a conducive learning environment and inculcates in them the self-confidence they need to adapt to any environment that provides education, as a normal environment. In cases where schools experience a lack of these facilities, legal consequences to the responsible authorities should be administered. Children need to learn in a safe and secure environment.

For basic education to produce people who would be economically productive and morally upright citizens of the future, what kind of curriculum must be provided?

They need a curriculum that seeks to develop a child from various aspects and dimensions. Rather than teaching children how to be employable, they must be prepared how to think for themselves, to be creative, to be part of their own development and are able to pursue further education anywhere.

Learners must also understand the communities from which they come. That way they are able to center themselves in those communities, understand the needs of those communities and are therefore enabled to connect with those communities, because they can clearly see how their futures are tied to their communities and will readily give back in terms of helping in the development of where they come from.

Parents want a good education for their children. Do these parents have an understanding of what a good education is?

Many parents may view a “good education” as that which will provide employment after the learners complete their education. But often they do not interact properly with their children nor keep a healthy contact with the school where the children attend. It is also usually what the parents want their children to become rather than what the children are interested in. They seem to want, mostly to actualize themselves through their children. What the children are interested in or are capable of becomes secondary. Parents must understand the objectives and purpose of the school they send their children to. At best many parents become passive participants in their children’s education, to the extent that when they finish their education and are unable to find employment, they are shocked and surprised.

What do you think about courses that could include teaching responsibility of one’s actions, how boys and girls should regard one another, acceptable ways of solving problems, self-respect and respect for others as a core part of Basic Education curriculum?

Parents must also be responsible for teaching their children about relationships. They must give proper guidance in terms of how boys and girls relate to one another so that they begin to learn self-respect and respect of others. Charity truly starts at home. This is an opportunity to introduce African philosophies such as Ubuntu because they embody acceptable values that the African child must assume at this level of their education. Ubuntu, which is a concept that connects a person to other persons by acknowledging the existence of one by another, runs through African societies. This may impact positively on the behavior of young people towards one another, especially when these boys become men. Their aggressive disposition towards women may be positively impacted. Currently in South Africa in particular, pregnancy of young girls at the level of basic education is high and the rape and murder of young women has become common and shockingly worrisome.


Conversation with Ayanda Booi, a young Enko recruit with grit, heart & art

As part of its social responsibility policy, Enko funds the tuition fees of a number of deserving students in each of its schools. Last November Enko organised a selection session with World Vision, an NPO that works with communities to improve children’s well-being. They were helped by Ayanda Booi, a youngster who has created an NPO to help young people in the township through performing arts workshops. The selected students visited Enko Ferndale on the 9th of March, to get an impression of their future school. We asked Ayanda, who has now joined Enko headquarters, to tell us more about his career, his commitment to the Orange Farm Township youth, and the Enko project.

Can you tell us about where you come from and what you did in Orange Farm?

I originally come from Soweto, but I moved to Orange Farm years ago. Orange Farm is a township south of Soweto, on the road to Bloemfontein. I created my NPO because a lot of youngsters did not do anything after school, there were no facilities where they could be taken care of, so they hung around, and some of them ended up in gangs. In Orange Farm, there is this big issue of Initiation Schools, where kids are abducted at a very young age from their parents who are then asked to pay tuition for initiation school. But these illegal schools are the pathway to gangsterism. I wanted to offer an alternative. As I have always been passionate about performing arts, I started an organisation in 2015. I thought teaching performing arts to them would also allow them to develop their life skills. We had workshops where we would study dance, music, poetry, drama. The big challenge was to find spaces where we could gather and practice. We often practised in dumping spaces, as there were no other places we could meet. As of January 2017, we had 84 kids aged from 6 to 18 years old in our organization, at three main locations. As performing arts are not very popular with boys, I had mainly girls. Boys in the townships are more interested in football… Over the two years we have been operating, I have been developing partnerships and joint events with other NPOs to give a chance to my kids to perform in front of audiences. That is how I met with the people of World Vision.

How did you hear about Enko?

The people from World Vision told me about the Enko selection tests for scholarships to Enko Ferndale, for students in grade 7/8/9. I looked at the prerequisites, asked my kids for their (grade) reports and I sent the pupils that could qualify. I had ten kids, but two of them had parents who would not let them try the test. So, World Vision helped me organize transport for eight kids to where the examinations were held. I guess Enko did not realise how attractive their offer was. There were 135 kids attending the session! The test consisted of written tests in English, science and mathematics. Pupils who achieved high scores in these tests had an interview with an Enko representative. As I had helped with the process, I was asked to come and help them to finalize the selection. 15 kids were selected and awarded a scholarship to attend Enko Ferndale. I had to go to the families, explain to them how it would work and then interview them and send the report back to Enko. I act as the “liaison officer” with the families.

Tell me about the event on 9 March?

The event theme was “unlocking your potential”. It was a pre-orientation day at Enko Ferndale. It was difficult for them to realise that they will be only starting in September. We took them to visit the school. They were able to see how it looks like. They had a lesson there. They even got to learn some French which they repeated enthusiastically! They came to the headquarters afterwards . They met Enko’s heads of school and staff. They had career talks with young professionals. They quite enjoyed their day!

What would be the best education to unlock youth potential? Engage the conversation! Let us know your ideas and discover Enko Education.

“Mission Impossible”? Four points to take away from the Enko seminar

Opening six schools that offer an international curriculum, in four African countries, teaching and working in three different languages*, and achieving all this in record time…. that’s the challenge that Enko Education set itself on its creation in 2014. Now it’s time to get an update on this adventure, with those who have been part of it. At the beginning of March, the central team at Enko Education spent a week in Johannesburg with the six heads of the Enko schools – an historic occasion as it was the first opportunity for the teams to come together at a seminar.

An intensive session

The participants enjoyed a very busy programme, combining (a lot of) work with tours of the local area, designed by the central team. The objective of the workshop, which brought together participants from four different countries (Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Mozambique and South Africa) was to give the heads of school an opportunity to meet with each other and the central team, share their experiences from their schools’ first few years of operation, discuss success stories and challenges that they’ve encountered, and think about the next steps. There were also presentations from representatives of the international IB and Cambridge GCSE accreditation bodies and the participants had the opportunity to meet and talk with them, as well as with future scholarship students from Enko Ferndale.

Sharing experience

The heads of school shared the best practices that they have established since their schools were set up. As Enko la Gaieté is the longest-standing of the Enko schools, its head presented the strategies rolled out to help students in the final year of their Diploma Programme to gain admission to the best universities (find out more here).  The head of Enko Nyamunda in Mozambique talked about the teacher recruitment process. The heads of the Enko schools in Ivory Coast discussed the implementation of bilingual education and the head of Enko Bonanjo tackled the subject of recruiting students.

The opportunity to meet “face-to-face” with people who are often only names in the “To” field of emails was beneficial for everyone involved, and the participants were able to build and reinforce their relationships, achieving a greater level of mutual understanding and cohesion between the heads of school and the central team.

The tours

Johannesburg, or eGoli in isiZulu, has no shortage of attractions, so the participants were able to go on safari in Pilanesberg, see the famous musical “Sarafina”, and sample the huge variety of culinary delights available in the City of Gold.

A beneficial week

The discussions provided the opportunity to see how far we’ve come over the last few years in this entrepreneurial and educational pan-African adventure. The participants were able to truly appreciate the richness of an international and multi-generational team at Enko Education, and also understand the challenges associated with this level of diversity. Opening schools that offer international (and therefore very demanding) curricula, in so many different countries; working and communicating in three languages (English, French and Portuguese); achieving results quickly… these are the challenges that the Enko teams have been able to overcome.

The heads of school were able to appreciate that many of their problems are shared by the others, in terms of operational management and academic constraints. They were able to share the solutions they have implemented at a local level.

For all the teams contributing to the development of Enko Education, the discussions were hugely helpful. The week spent together reinforced the relationships between the heads of school, offering them a better view of the company strategy and a greater understanding of the various ideas behind it, and laying the groundwork for more conversations and discussions after they returned home. Those in the central team who have not had the opportunity to travel to the different sites were able to gain an understanding of some of the concerns at the different schools, and the progress made in overcoming local challenges.

It was definitely an experience to be repeated next year!

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*not forgetting all the other official languages of the different countries where Enko operates!