During the George Municipality’s 2012 Economic Strategy process, education was identified as one of seven key niche sectors that will drive the economy in years to come. During a recent public lecture by NMMU Chancellor Santie Botha, the key role that education providers play in any economy was again highlighted. There has been increasing interest and discussions around George’s position as hub of education in the Garden Route and Southern Cape, and how the town can maximise the benefit that such a positive positioning would bring.
The initiative sees a few of the key players in tertiary education been meeting regularly to discuss how education can be more responsive to the needs of the economy, and how in fact education could become a driver of the economy. The newly constituted George Education Forum sees representatives from Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) – Prof Quinton Johnson and Dr Marianne Doubell, UNISA – Ms Pulane Mphasane, South Cape College – Dr Rajesh Maharaj, Department of Education – Ms Alta Raath and Ms Carlene Swartz, George Business Chamber – Ms Ingrid Cronje and Dr Dennis Farrell and George Municipality – Ms Carli Bunding-Venter meeting on a regular basis.
Dr. Farrell serves on the Executive Committee of the George Business Chamber, and volunteered as the responsible Exco member to facilitate the education portfolio.
The group has formulated a strong position statement and aim to for example:
- Facilitate the education and development of people in scarce and critical skills for the region and South Africa,
- Align and influence curricula applicable to entrepreneurship, business application and research,
- Position George as a preferred education and knowledge economy destination in South Africa, and
- To encourage and facilitate innovation and entrepreneurial thinking, development and implementation within the educational sector
The Forum has agreed to mobilise resources and conduct research to determine the critical and scarce skills (qualifications or jobs for which there are too few people qualified) for George and the broader Southern Cape. The findings will enable the educational sector to engage in needs driven education and training which will have a direct impact on the requirements of business in the region.
It is anticipated that the Education Forum will start to active collaborative work early in 2014, and will add extensively to the list of represented entities. It will further work on building dialogue with secondary schools and private sector training institutions.
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