Leungo Learning Circles develop the future fit Africa child

future fit africa child
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Global developments, including the movement of the world into the fourth industrial revolution with its impact, among others, on Africa’s future skills profile, have seen African professionals from various sectors coming together to focus on the preparation of Africa’s children for that eventuality, writes Ido Lekota.

One such initiative is Leungo Learning Circles, which is a platform where African professionals from all walks of life come together to have relevant and relatable conversations affecting Africa’s economic progress, and the future of its children.

Essentially Leungo Learning Circles—which comprises a bi-monthly conversation among the various professionals—is about creating peer networks where they bring their personal and professional experiences to chart a path towards educating Africa’s children in preparation for their active participation in building a better continent.

Practically, the initiative envisages a situation whereby through their various engagements, the participants will eventually come up with an action plan for the implementation of whatever solutions they come up with aimed at improving the opportunities for Africa’s children to become masters of their future. To this end, the Leungo Learning Circles’ focus is on educating Africa’s children to become critical contributors to a continent with a sustainable future. “Leungo Learning Circles is about discovering opportunities for the building of a better African future by tapping into the experiences of the various participants. We bring them together under one roof and curate the conversations to explore ways of educating Africa’s children for a better future. This is about infinite conversations and infinite learning from one another,” explains the project’s initiator, Thami Magele, who is the Founder and CEO of Leungo Education—a Johannesburg-based Skills Training and Change Management Consultancy.

Another of Leungo Education’s current skills development projects involves offering employability skills to unemployed IT graduates, as well as offering IT skills—including coding—to young people with a matric certificate who are currently not in education or employed. Some of the skills offered to the trainees include critical thinking using the peer learning method.

As a change management expert and advocate for skills and knowledge transfer, Magele sees Leungo Learning Circles’ mission encouraging collaborative initiatives to establish opportunities for the benefit of a future fit “Africa child”.

She deliberately uses the qualification of the “Africa child” instead of the “African child” because “Leungo Learning Circles are about all children living in Africa regardless of whether they don’t see themselves as Africans or seen by others not as Africans”.

This, she avers, is because given the continent’s history and the impact of global geopolitics, living in Africa does have an impact on the lives of all its people, including those who do not see themselves as Africans, or seen by others as not being Africans.

For Magele, Leungo Learning Circles is about changing the narrative of the future of the Africa child; instilling a winning mindset; challenging all to think critically about the issues facing Africa; and considering what role we can all play in contributing to positive change and finding solutions to move forward.

“Africa is home to some of the world’s fastestgrowing economies with a young dynamic population. By focusing on the ‘How do we move Africa forward’ conversation, we are acknowledging the existence of fundamental sustainable developmental gaps and perpetual patterns broadening the divide between opportunity and success.

“The interest to move Africa forward is a quest to unpack and understand existing old and new applicable successful practices, highlighting our diversity as a strength for creating and seizing new opportunities as a collective; so we can create an environment to empower the future fit Africa child.”

Some of the topical issues to be tackled in the Leungo Learning Circles as a way of moving Africa forward include:

  • Africa’s fitness for growth: By 2030, 18 million new formal jobs will be needed annually – currently only 3 million are created to absorb new labour market entrants.
  • Learning Systems and Environments: Future Fit Africa – Currently more than 60% of Africa’s population is below the age of 25. By 2030 they could constitute 42% of the Global youth.
  • Introduction of the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Maths) education approach. STEAM educationis an approach to learning that uses Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics as access points for guiding student inquiry, dialogue, and critical thinking. In 2018 South Africa’s cultural goods market was valued at $446, 5 million (R8706,75 million). How can art empower the Africa Child and Africa?
  • Health: Establishing youth advisory teams – Africa is the fastest growing continent with severe health personnel shortage. How can we create both healthy societies and a workforce?
  • Agriculture: Food security and farming for Health – Agriculture will remain one of the main sources of youth employment. So how do we make the sector more appealing?
  • A Seat at the Table: Empowered Participation and Decision-making – Does Africa’s youth understand their role? What is Africa’s leadership strategy to reconnect its largest constituency?
  • Relating to the last point, Magele confirmed that during the recent Leungo Learning Circle’s launch, the issue of the disconnect between the African leadership and the youth was raised – with one of the young participants accusing the elders of speaking “among themselves about us, not with us.”

To redress the situation, she is committed to deliberately targeting young leaders as participants in the subsequent Leungo Learning Circles’ engagement sessions “because as elders we cannot think that we can come up with solutions to the challenges they are facing without their input”.

“As the driver of Leungo Learning Circles, Leungo Education most definitely believes in the principle of nothing about us without us,” states Magele. On the STEAM education approach, Magele pointed out that in a way, Leungo Learning Circles does ascribe to the approach because some of the participants in the conversations include professionals from the arts sector—including visual artists and curators some of whom are already involved in introducing art as a subject in some township schools.

future fit africa child

The STEAM approach’s cognitive premise is that science needs creative as well as critical thinking to allow discourses that empower and fuel discovery and innovation and allow risk-taking—an important ingredient for the much-needed innovation in the fourth industrial revolution-driven global economy.

As the STEAM education approach innovator posits, “STEAM is about more than converging the fine arts and design thinking into STEM (Science, Technology, Science and Maths) fields. It is about integrating different skills and disciplines to provide a richer educational experience”.

Leungo Learning Circles is a culmination of a skills development programme Magele used to run at school in Thokoza, wherein grade 11 and 12 learners were taught research skills and social entrepreneurship. The project also included empowering teachers by helping them develop critical thinking-driven content for learners. Through the assistance of a psychologist, the learners were also put through psychometric tests to assess their self-awareness levels.

Self-awareness is an important ingredient in young people’s education because it provides students insight into who they are, and why they react as they do, as well as giving them direction for self-improvement. Self-aware people have a fundamental belief in their ability to achieve a goal. Essentially, this trait helps students thrive in everything they do.

This is because it is about them visualising the best version of themselves. This is important in young people’s lives because having a picture of their ideal selves is a reflection of their hopes, dreams, and aspirations, and speaks to their skills and abilities, achievements, and accomplishments they wish to attain.

Ido Lekota is a media practitioner and an independent socio-political commentator.