Why is it important to include driving lessons in our school curriculum? I am posing this question because recently, the road traffic infringement agency (RTIA) and the department of basic education (DoBE) announced a partnership that will see high school learners taking driving lessons. I think they should have instead included entrepreneurship into the curriculum instead. It boggles the mind why they decided to focus on drivers’ licences.
We don’t need learners who can drive; we need those who are business-minded, with strong ideas to uplift our economy. A youth who can strategise on the type of businesses the country needs to boost our economy; a youth that will not rely on government grants but be proactive to realise his or her dreams. If we say we need to give driving lessons to these learners because we are trying to promote road safety, then we are missing the point. All that learners worry about is passing their subjects well so that they can go to universities. The last pressure they need is to learn about cars, which most can’t even afford.
I really fail to understand the point of this initiative, because most road accidents are not caused by youths under the age of 21 years, but by irresponsible adults — some old enough to have their own children. So I don’t understand how this initiative is a solution to our economy. It may even encourage learners to steal their parent’s cars and go on secret joyrides with their friends — and that’s when road accidents statistics will increase rapidly. I feel the right way to do things is for learners to take driving lessons when they are mature and can take responsibility for their actions.
I am trying to think about the lives of pupils who reside in rural areas. Most of them study in mud schools with no resources, and some of them end up failing because of the bad conditions in their schools. And yet they are encouraged to take driving lessons! Why not give them entrepreneurship skills so they can make money and better both their own and their families’ lives?
Let us not find short-term solutions that will only benefit a few. Let us look at these issues from a larger perspective and create opportunities that will improve our communities, our country and the world.
I know some will argue that having a drivers’ licence will benefit the learners, especially those who don’t make it into universities. I concur, but through being hired as drivers in companies that pay them a pittance? I disagree. We want youths who are productive. But don’t get me wrong; I am not implying that truck or delivery van drivers are not productive. I do know from our fathers that it is not what they wish for us. They worked hard as drivers and earned little money, and this left many of them with no savings or investments whatsoever. That’s not what we want to happen to our youths.
Let us groom young professionals to become directors, chief executives, shareholders and managers. We need young learners who, from the information and knowledge they obtain through entrepreneurship training, become influential. Those who make a meaningful contribution and assume roles that can help with the transformation of the country’s critical sectors such as finance, and those who can realise their own individual vision.
We need development programmes around entrepreneurship, which will allow learners to participate in forums and seminars on key industry issues, particularly in shaping and growing our economy. We need entrepreneurship programmes in schools to help bridge the gap between high schools, university and the corporate environment, and that promote professional development from a young age.
Training at an early stage
Our country needs learners who will have the appetite to acquire knowledge about the opportunities available in the market, and how they can contribute to our country’s wellbeing. And I believe all that can only be achieved if we train our learners to be independent, creative and business-minded at an early stage. I appreciate the initiative between RTIA and DoBE, but what I am saying is, let’s get our priorities right. Entrepreneurship skills are what we need — not driving lessons.