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Mar22

#21 Faith Mangope – Digital Economy Of South Africa and Championing Female Entrepreneurship

PODCAST: Episode 21

Faith Mangope – Digital Economy Of South Africa and Championing Female Entrepreneurship

What an honor to speak with an inspiring female leader, Faith Mangope. We are so inspired by her passion for education and helping other young women of South Africa to provide opportunities for them that they would otherwise not have.

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About Our Guest: Faith Mangope

Faith is the Power Breakfast host on PowerFM98.7, an ENCA Anchor, and the Managing Director of Faith Mangope Technology and Leadership Institute. Faith is also the founder of FTA Media Communications and the brains behind New G—a mobile app designed to provide access to job opportunities to South Africans.

Faith Mangope

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Topics Discussed

  1. South African society and understanding the digital economy.
  2. Education in South Africa.
  3. Faith’s own journey as a successful female entrepreneur in South Africa.
  4. Faith’s definition of a successful education

Full Episode Transcription

Guest Introduction

Philip von Ziegler: In this episode, I’ll be speaking with Faith Mangope. Faith is the host of the Power Breakfast Show on PowerFM98.7. She’s an eNCA anchor and the Managing Director of Faith Mangope Technology and Leadership Institute. Faith is also the founder of FTA Media Communications and the brains behind New G, a mobile app designed to provide access to job opportunities to all South Africans. Driven by her relentless passion for education, empowering young women, and making an impact, Faith is a paragon role model for all South Africans.

In this episode, Faith and I discuss socio-economic issues impacting education, income inequality in South Africa, the impact of COVID on economically disadvantaged families, Faith’s personal views on education, and a range of other interesting and thought-provoking topics. I thoroughly enjoyed this conversation with Faith, and I’m sure you will, too. Without further ado, I bring you Faith Mangope.

PvZ Faith Mangope, thank you so much for joining me on the show, it’s a privilege to have you here. For those that don’t know who you are, please tell us a little bit about yourself. Tell us where you come from and how did your education journey get you to where you are today?

Faith Mangope: So thank you very much for the opportunity to share a little bit about myself on your platform. So my name is Faith Mangope. I’m a broadcaster. I’m a businesswoman. I’m a world changer. The broadcasting side of me comes in as I am on eNCA, so I have a current affairs show on weekend Saturdays and Sundays because my love is also politics, development, current affairs.

I’m a true patriarch, so I truly believe in the development, as well as the education and empowerment of our people. So as a result of that, obviously, I think politics swung me in and I got a big love for it, and that’s why I’ve got a show on eNCA from it.

I’m also a radio host, so I’m on a station called Power 98.7, which is a commercial talk radio platform, where I’ve got a breakfast show. So I have a breakfast show Monday to Friday from 6 – 9 am. And when I’m not doing that as well, then I run the Faith Mangope Technology and Leadership Institute. I also run FTA Media Communications. I’m also an Africa Code Week ambassador. I also have  New G app.

But the big passion really is, not that anything else is not a passion, but I think for me it’s my heartstring. It pulls at me just simply because of the education factor, is the Faith Mangope Technology and Leadership Institute. So the Faith Mangope Technology and Leadership Institute is an institute that was derived from understanding that there is a huge need to be able to bridge the education gap not only in our country but in our continent.

I truly believe that the way in which we’re educating right now is incorrect and it’s incorrect on many a facet. And as we go through this conversation with each other, I’ll be able to expound further in terms of why I think the education system is doing more damage than good for us. It’s giving us more theoretical knowledge than actually being able to give us practical skills that align to global demands as well as global employment rates.

So there are so many gaps within the education space, and with that in mind, further exacerbated by the need for employment, by the demand for employment, by an economy that is plummeting, never mind under a COVID-19 pandemic. But plummeting and underutilised resources, as well as the consistent traditional way of being able to do business.

So we do know that there are various sectors of industry that contribute towards GDP as well as the general fiscus, all right?  Manufacturing, mining, we can speak to [inaudible] about them, but where does the digital component play in?

So when our minister, for example, speaks emphatically about, what struck me was do our people understand how to participate in a digital economy? Do they have the skills? Do they have the know-how? Do they have an understanding of this digital space, this 4IR space? Or is it all just concepts and terminology that just simply skips over their heads and they don’t actually get anything out of it?

Because once you do not understand a concept, then you cannot implement what you don’t understand, never mind being able to be an economic participator within that space. But if you don’t understand something, you can’t participate in it, which means that a significant portion of our society does not have a full grasp of what 4IR is.

And if a significant portion of our society does not have a full grasp of 4IR, how are they supposed to be economic participants within the 4IR space? Now, when we have to look at the unemployment rate when it comes to women, I think the latest stats that were released, said about 50.4% of women in this country alone are unemployed. That means one in more than two because 50% is half. But if you can have about 50.4%, you talk about more than half, so Faith, plus probably Faith’s head, right? Those are the amount of people that are unemployed in the country. It’s a true problem.

We have to look at where women are currently sitting. Women sit at the bottom of the pile when it comes to economic participation. They’re the last to get inside the door. When they are in through the door, how many channels and opportunities get opened for them? We always speak about how women need a seat at the table and they need to always be at the table. But how many women are actually getting to the top floor so that they can have a seat at the table?

I’m going to take it a step further. Once they have a seat at the table, do they actually have a voice? Does the table allow them to speak? Are they listened to? It’s one thing getting to the top floor; it’s another thing having the seat. But what’s the point of having a seat if your voice is not heard? But how is your voice going to be heard unless you’ve got the skills, as well as you’ve got to know-how, as well as you’ve got the notion? And as well as if you’re a participator within the space?

So then I said, then how do we change all of that? Because it’s one thing to criticise the government, it’s another thing to criticise the general status quo of our country, even of our continent. Never mind the continent, the stats on the continent, it makes me cry. So what do we do?

So then I thought then the best way to do it is to change the way in which we’ve been educating. Let’s start by looking and envisioning education the way I would want to be educated. How would I want to educate for the future and they can drop conversation, I’ll shed some light in terms of my own journey.

And you’ll see I’ve been given various opportunities that have been allowing me to actually speak to you today. Ordinary girl, who’s going about her life, trying to climb up the corporate ladder, probably in a call center. Probably not a call center, but I would have been probably something corporate, and I would also be fighting the same struggles.

So the opportunities that I’ve been given have allowed me to be a lateral thinker in terms of how do I approach life and education and purpose on its own? So with that in mind, then it was, hmm, I want a school. Now it sounds crazy, I get it. I thought I was crazy in the beginning because as soon as I said I want a school, I thought, but I’m not Oprah. Oprah’s got to school. I’m nowhere near Oprah.

And then it was funny enough, I’m an honorary Rotarian. So Rotary had invited me to come and speak to a bunch of matriculants. Actually, it was like four or five schools. And they said to me, Faith, just come and encourage our young people. We really need them to be able to draw some inspiration from somebody who’s gone through the journey of high school and getting to the point where they are.

And as I was speaking, I spoke about how I want a school. I want to be able to reenvision and reimagine education and be able to upskill people, boys, and girls, when it comes to the education space, really close the inequalities that exist. I think further COVID has just shown how unequal we are as a society when it comes to education in the way in which we educate people.

Especially young people from disadvantaged communities, from rural areas, they are at the bottom of the pile, and yet we say that we are trying to build an equal, non-racial society. You cannot do so if there is socio-economic injustice. That’s another political story altogether.

So as I was speaking, there happened to be [inaudible], my partners who are our sponsors, XH Smart Technology Africa, the managing director was in the room, just quietly sitting there. And he listened to me after I had given my speech to the matriculants, and he came up to me, he said, Faith, what do you want? I mean, I hear you speak passionately about education, about how we need to reimagine our education system and how we teach learning, and how do we empower young people.

And I said, listen, I want a school. If you have to ask me how I believe that I need to be Oprah first before we get to the how, but I do. I want to be able to change not only the way in which South Africans learn, but I also want to change the way in which Africans learn in general. I do think that we can draw a lot of learning from countries such as Zimbabwe, and I’ll tell you why from an educational perspective. So I will say that the former president, Robert Mugabe, got it right from educating people in the beginning. The whole policies, as well as the notion of educating people, is the best way. In fact, it’s been proven time and time again.

Statistics have shown, as well as when it comes to countries, particularly countries that are in an economic recession. So when we looking at, for example, Korea. The way in which they were able to get themselves out of the doldrums, so to say, of recessions as well as tough economic times, was being able to look at their people and see them as human capital. If you look at your people and see your people as human capital, then you’re able to empower and provide them with the necessary skills so that they can provide you with economic contribution. But you can’t do so if you don’t invest in your people, and that’s what I truly believe in. You need to be able to invest in your people so that your people can invest in you, you being the country.

And when he looked at me, he said, okay, let’s have a school. And I said, okay, we’re going to have a school. And that’s the type of person that I am. I kind of act first and then I think later and I’m like, shucks, I said, yes, I want a school.

But literally, in about three months or so, the Faith Mangope Technology and Leadership Institute was birthed. It is endorsed by both the Department of Telecommunications as well as the Department of Social Development. Both the ministers were there to put their stamp of approval behind it. And we decided then from there to niche it up and, say for now, for the next at least two to three years, we want to focus on empowering the girl child, simply because of the way in which society has positioned young women.

Young women have got adequate skills, they’ve got adequate capabilities, they are highly intelligent. But many of the women, particularly Black women, after the age of 18, 19, we find that their socio-economic structures cause them to fall by the wayside. So many of the girls fall pregnant by the age of 18. Some are raped, some are abused, some are beaten.

So all of these socio-economic constructs, as well as socio-economic challenges, prohibits the girl child from being able to reach her full potential. You have to ask yourself this question. It’s one question that I ask myself. How many professors do you think we’re sitting with? Or astronauts, or designers, or dancers? How many talented actresses and actors and people in the digital and creative industries are we sitting with who are in shacks? Who don’t have a way out, who are pregnant? In abusive relationships? Who are HIV positive, who feel as though there’s no way out? Not that HIV is a death sentence, but because there’s no way out in these socio-economic constructs, they fall by the wayside.

If we’re sitting with full potential and true potential of how society ought to be, and that potential lies also with the girl child. Isn’t it time that we start looking at how we empower her so that we can give her the necessary capabilities? So that she can get to the table and actually sit there and then actually have a voice in it?

We can’t do so if we do not empower our women. So the focus was for the first three years, we’re going to just do that. We’re going to empower, educate, equip our young woman with 4IR skills, so that is coding. My girls were learning augmented as well as virtual reality the other day. You should have seen them, they were like a joke, so augmented virtual reality. They learn blockchain, they go through machine learning, they will have learnt machine learning, and all of this we’re doing.

Oh, and then also through our partners Afrika Tikkun as well as Microsoft, the girls have an exam that they write in March and then they leave there with a Microsoft certification. Apart from that, we also do our best to try to get them places of employment so that they can take what they’ve learned and put it into good practice.

But we also have soft skills, so we also teach the girls how to be more entrepreneurial, how to be enterprising, had to be innovative. We got our girls to design and it’s my CO, so we’re a team of many women, very talented women because this ship does not run on its own. And I know something, and I heard somewhere that if you really want something to be successful, hire people that are smarter than you. So I got a bunch of people that are way smarter than me. I can talk; you should see what the other ladies can do.

And these are just women who are so passionate about development in education, who are absolutely insightful and highly intelligent and capable in their own right. And the girls the other day we’re designing a robot. They had to make a robot out of anything they could find. So I think my CO brought marshmallows and paints and a whole bunch of stuff. And she said to them, the reason why I’m giving you all of this is because I want you to learn how to be creative and think outside the box. So you’re going to find a way to use the marshmallows, turn a marshmallow into a robot.

And we say these things and it sounds so trivial, but for women and for people that have not been given an opportunity to think laterally and to be creative, because, by the way, creativity is not necessarily a popular subject in school. There’s something called creative writing, but creativity is not expounded on so that people can start really jogging up the right side of their brain.

So we teach people how to be logical, but we prepare logic for more of the mass production forward kind of enterprising. But what about the right side where we have to be agile and innovative and we have to be creative people? How many times do we get that side of the brain stimulated? And that’s what we try to do with our girls. I’ve said a mouthful, but ask more questions, and I’ll be able to tell you about the school.

How Faith Built Confidence Within Herself

PvZ: No, that’s absolutely incredible and super, super inspiring to hear from somebody like you. You take such initiative and just to run with it is an incredible thing. I guess the first question that I have is where does all the confidence come from? Because this is something that I think not only the youth in general, but specifically young girls, young girls, and young boys, I can’t discriminate there. But I think across the board, confidence is one of the biggest issues when it comes to actually pursuing one’s goals as a young individual.

FA: To be honest and authentic, because I do believe authenticity is key. I think when you grow up in the back[inaudible]. So I was raised not with a silver spoon. I had a bit of, one would describe it as a little bit of a tough background, and you still made it and you still survived? Then there must be something special about you. There must be something that is different, or you must be creative or something really particular that you need to fulfill. And I think I’ve been blessed to have resilience.

So I come from a background that was poor. So I always laugh when you South Africans have load shedding, I always think, man, I grew up with load shedding. What are you talking about? We never had money to pay for our electricity bills. So I did my matric in the dark, not because of load shedding, but because we just simply did not have money to pay for something as simple as power. So I got my matric exemption by candlelight. I got my distinctions by candlelight. And that’s simply because of the kind of background that I come from.

Both my parents were unemployed and I’m the firstborn of four kids. That means the firstborn of four kids and you have to look at them and think to yourself, what am I going to do with these humans that are all looking at me?

I remember one day, we were so broke and so poor that we just needed power for one thing and we couldn’t we put together R40. I know it sounds trivial, but we couldn’t put together R40 just to buy electricity. Yes, there was a time when electricity was R40 in this country, and we didn’t have it. And I had to phone a good friend of mine and say, and you can imagine what that does to a girl, right? I had to represent my family and phone a girlfriend of mine and say, listen, my parents and my family, my household is in the dark. I just need R40 to buy electricity.

When you grow up poor when you grow up with the socio-economic challenges that gets put on one. I came from an abusive home, so my father was really abusive towards my mom. At one stage, actually, I got my father arrested for domestic violence.

So when you see that you come from the “wrong side of the tracks” and yet you still make it. And yet you find a way to be resilient and not to be hurtful and not to be bitter and not to be bogged down by the negativity and still find a way to rise above it and still find the sunshine, even though it’s all cloudy, and even though it’s raining. I think that it creates in you a sense of confidence and self-confidence because a lot of times you can be confident, but not confident in yourself.

So for me, it was being able to understand that resilience is key for me from a very young age. I think it’s been instilled in me that if you can make it through this, you can make it through anything. So candlelight matric and matric by candlelight added a sense of resilience. So I thought, huh? If I can pass matric in the dark, I’ve got this life thing, right? And when I got to university, the same thing.

And I always say that we always look at challenges in life as these huge obstacles. But sometimes, when you go through life and life presents you with all of these obstacles and all of these challenges, it’s there to build a sense of resilience, a sense of honing and grounding and anchoring that you would not necessarily have. Because who do you turn to when the bills need paying and the money is up, and you’re going through a pandemic, and you are feeling lonely, or you are feeling isolated, and you are feeling depressed? Sometimes the person that you need to turn to is you. But how do you turn to yourself if you did not know how to spend that time with your resilient self? And if you did not build resilience within yourself so that you can withstand even those difficult times? So difficult times build strong people. I believe that true challenges and obstacles in life are there to create a sense of resilience in us that allows us to think beyond ourselves.

So if you want a longwinded way of saying that sometimes confidence is built by trouble. Where there is trouble, once you can get out of the trouble, I think you come out with a sense of confidence and a sense of wanting to be an Amazon princess, but that’s another story, also for another day. I’ve always wanted to be an Amazon princess.

What Should be Done to Prevent Loss of Learning During the Pandemic

PvZ Incredible, yea, I guess adversity does breed interesting, resilient, and dynamic people. So shifting gears a little bit, focusing on education holistically. The benefit of a strong balance sheet has given the private sector the ability to do a pretty good job at managing this coronavirus pandemic, whether it’s a combination of blended learning, online learning, or a combination of the two. The private sector has been able to continue learning to a degree through these challenging times.

Now the government schools to a large degree, the economically disadvantaged students and families have struggled the most. What’s the government doing, or what should the government be doing to prevent that loss of learning that has taken place over the last 12 months, and is likely going to continue to take place throughout this lockdown period?

FA: How much time do you have? Do you have a few days for this complete conversation?

PvZ [laugh]

FA: Because don’t get me started! I think as a country, we need to acknowledge because you can’t change what you don’t acknowledge. We need to acknowledge that we failed. We failed in being innovative and we failed in having foresight. And we failed in having a vision for a democratic, unified, growing South Africa. We always say that South Africa’s alive with possibilities. Well, we failed to imagine the possibilities.

Instead, we focused on what was just in front of our noses and what we could put on during a State of a Nation Address so that we can come out looking as though we are doing something for the benefit of mankind. And I think that once we acknowledge that, then we start acknowledging, and then we start looking at the parts that we failed.

So we failed at being able to utilise our resources and repurpose our resources so that indeed it does cover, and how do you prioritise a country? So I believe that if you really want to grow a country holistically, you have to have a certain portion of the budget dedicated to education. But not education that turns out people that are for the third industrial revolution or even the second for that matter. But people that are actually forward-thinking and people that are actually aligned with global trends and global norms.

We love speaking about how we are part of the BRICS countries. So we look at Brazil, Russia, India, China, and we always say, listen, look at what they’re doing in terms of education, etc. But yea, do you know that Russia releases its blueprint in terms of education? Do you know where the people are when it comes to education? Do you understand the fact that they’ve even got jobs of the future, and they’re aligning the education system with the jobs and the global trends of the future?

You look at India right now, India significantly runs a huge digital economy. People understand that the frontier is going digital. China, do we need to speak about China? So we belong to all of these countries, Brazil, Russia, India, China. And yet we’re still on the back foot in terms of being able to implement and learn even some of the policies that they’ve managed to implement?

There’s something horribly wrong with that. And this is not to say that South Africa is a complete disaster, but it does go to say that we need to be able to look at our education system and say, how do we educate our people so that, number one, they can get a job anywhere in the world? Now we must change the way in which we even educate.

There is no point, if you’re raising a child, or if you’re developing a person if you’re educating a person so that they can be economic contributors at a lower level in your country. That does not give people autonomy. That does not give people a sense of belonging. It doesn’t even make them believe in what they actually are able to achieve.

So we literally need to stop this, we’re building people for a better South Africa, and start looking at it from the point of we’re building people for a better world! Is our education system building kids that are educated enough, just enough to make it through matric, to be in South Africa? Or are we building them so that indeed they can get accepted at Harvard? What good is it if you want your child to be accepted in an institution in South Africa, but they can’t be accepted in Harvard because they don’t have the points?

And then we turn around and say, we are a global economy. We are a country that believes in being a global community. No, you’re not global, you’ve got a nationalist agenda. And you need to be able to do away with that nationalist agenda if you truly want to be a global people. So we’ve done it completely wrong. We built for South Africa instead of building for the world.

And I think that as soon as we start acknowledging that, then we can start changing that and putting together those practices that allows that to even change. Another thing, when it comes to tackling the socio-economic challenges, the reason why a private school works is because the kids have got fibre in their houses, or they’ve got wi-fi in their houses. They’ve got a warm place, electricity, and some of them even have got generators so that they don’t experience load shedding. Those are just some of the socio-economic inequalities that exist.

What is the point of putting fibre, however, in a household if the child lives in a shack? Now imagine putting fibre in a shack. It does not change the fact that once that child is on an education platform, their stomachs are hurting. There’s no point that a kid is writing mathematics, but they’re not fed. And that is not an education problem, that is a socio-economic problem. That is an economic problem.

So we have to be able to look at that. What is the point of installing fibre, giving a child a laptop if they’re in a shack, and you know for a fact that the uncle or aunt or the cousin or the brother or even the family friend, is going to come out in the middle of the night and steal that very same laptop.

That is what’s happening right now in our township schools. Laptops and iPads are being stolen because people want to be able, well, I suppose, sell it off for money. Those are the types of inequalities that exist.

A school, for example, in a more affluent neighborhood, you lock that laptop up, you’ll still find it tomorrow morning. Put that same laptop in a township school, tell me how long it lasts. That is not an education agenda, it’s an economic agenda. So being able to address the inequalities that exist, that’s when we start addressing the issues around education.

If we’re truly going to make education equal, there is no point in putting fibre and giving a laptop if that kid is going to be studying while hungry. Just the same as there’s no point in being able to say, oh, our kids have got an equal amount of education because government needs to open schools at the same time. They will still not receive an equal education. Who’s going to teach them? Are the teachers in a government school the same equipped teachers as in a private institution? Probably not.

And private institutions are training our kids for the global economy, not for a South African economy. And yet public education is training our kids to be more active in a South African economy. What is the point of that? You’re not building people for the future. You’re building people to survive in your country.

And if you’re building people to survive in your country, how can you stand there and say that you are a leader who propagates for a global economy? That’s a lie. So there are so many dynamics when it comes to being able to have education on an equal playing field.

But it all starts off with money, the economy. It all starts off with being able to address the social injustices that exist if we’re truly going to address the education injustice. What we’re facing as a country right now because of a pandemic, is an academic or an education injustice that has been exacerbated by a social-economic injustice.

PvZ But even if the money was available, wouldn’t you argue that the administration of the money is the biggest problem?

FA: Ugh! [sigh]

PvZ I mean, at the end of the day, that’s a hybrid sort of competency problem and it’s a problem of mixed incentives and agendas. I guess we’re going down a political conversation now. I guess the question really is that even if the money was there, would that solve the problem given the current state of things? And the answer’s probably no. It’s a multilayered problem that’s likely not going to go away in the short- to medium-term. I like to think so, but it’s a structural problem that’s really difficult to solve.

FA: Until we have people who actually care about the good of this country, at the forefront of leadership in this country. Who handle the budgets of this country, we’re not going to go anywhere. I think that you can have, and you know what? Here’s the thing. It’s not a South African problem. We need to stop thinking that it’s South African. This is not unique to South Africa. It’s a global phenomenon. There was one stat they came up with. People steal, right? People steal. Whether you’re in politics or whether you’re in government, or whether in education, people steal.

But I think that what’s happened here is that people have become so greedy, or those that are in power have become so greedy, that they even steal from their own children. Let me explain what I mean by that.

If you’re going to steal a portion of the budget that was supposed to be dedicated towards education and yet you’ve got young kids in your house, you’ve just stolen from your own children. Because whether or not those kids are in private school, those kids in private school are going to meet a child in public school. And that kid in public school and one day they’re going to have their paths meet. And when their paths meet, what happens then?

If you don’t educate our people, and this is what I truly believe. If we don’t address the inequalities that exist, we’re going to find ourselves in a Third World War. And a Third World War is not a world war where you’ve got between states, it’s a class war. It’s a war between the haves and the have-nots.

It’s a war where the have-nots are so tired of being at the bottom and are so tired of being poor, that they’re going to look at you and I and say, but why is it that I can’t have what you have if I come from the same background that you do? And the colour of our skin is not going to matter during that time. It does not matter that I’m a Black woman, because the haves will look at me and say, hmm, why do you have more than me? Even with my skin colour, it will be a class war between the haves and the have-nots.

And if we truly are to avoid a class war, we need to be able to address the issue of corruption, and now more than ever, because it’s coming. We’re really like, see, I watch Game of Thrones, and they always say on Game of Thrones, winter’s coming, so it’s coming, literally. The class war is coming just simply because of inequalities that are continuing.

And I’m telling you now, once you just continue to widen the inequality gap, the have-nots are going to be tired of being poor. And the people that they’re going to look to are the rich or the affluent. Not even the rich and the affluent, the middle class, the middle class.

And they’re going to say, why is it that the middle class has got access to these opportunities, if I, too, have a right to these opportunities as a citizen of this country? And I think that if we’re going to avoid that, we need to stop stealing.

PvZ Yes, and I mean, South Africa could be the starting point for that because if you look at the Gini coefficient, South Africa has got the highest income inequality in the world. I think we are number one in the world for income inequality. I believe it’s something like the top 1% owns 70% of the wealth. The top 10% own 90% of the wealth. I need to double-check those stats, but I think I’m am pretty accurate with that, which is mind-boggling. And that’s only going to get worse.

And it also gets worse through irresponsible fiscal and monetary policy, and that’s what we’ve seen through what’s essentially happened over the last 10 years, since the last global recession. The stock markets continue to grow. But as we cut interest rates in the hopes of stimulating the economy, as we’ve seen over the last year, what inevitably happens over time, real inflation kicks up and real inflation is a death tax on the people that essentially can’t afford to pay it. So inflation is really the killer over the long-term for the have-nots.

And the real beneficiaries of inflation are the asset holders because assets depreciate with inflation and those are the haves. So at multiple levels, this is a problem that needs to be addressed by, as you say, competent people that truly, truly, deeply care about the country, which is really, really difficult to find. And I suppose all of that comes back down to the level of education.

FA: I think that there are, to be honest with you, I think that they are out there. I just think that they’re muted. I think that there are many individuals that are out there. Here’s something that’s going to make me unpopular. I don’t think that people that are over the age of 60 should be in government.

Why aren’t you retired? But then again, as I said, this might just make me really unpopular. So why are you in government at the age of 60? You know, these are just the logical things to kind of go, um, yea, well, that’s good … you know what I’m saying? Why are you 60 and in government?

Are you not supposed to be on an island somewhere in the Bahamas enjoying the fact that you’re old?  Not that there’s anything wrong with a 60-year old. But surely, surely, we should have younger blood in the government. And I’m not an ageist, I love people that are mature of age, but I have to be practical here and pragmatic.

Do we care about the same things? Are we passionate and moved by the same things? Are our cries the same? No, probably not. So if you have to ask me, the best way first is to get rid of everybody who’s over the age of 60. Now, see, now I’m sounding really unpopular. Hopefully, this podcast does not reach them.

The Definition of a Successful Education

PvZ All right, well, look, just to wrap things up, let’s just touch on education again. I’m going to ask you two questions. First is going to be, how do you define a successful education?

FA: A successful education is an education that, once attained, allows an individual to be autonomous. Allows an individual to determine their future, their lives, their purpose, as well as how far they can go. It’s an education that opens up not only the national agenda, but also the global agenda to them. It’s an education that can be implemented in any part of the world, not the country, of the world.

Once we get to a place where that education, the education that you can attain, is so good and is so credible that you can have access to any part of the world, then I believe that you’re educated. Because what is the point of calling it education? What, do you have to go to the definition of education, right? So, you know now more, right?

What is the point of knowing more for a specific country? I would think that knowledge is supposed to just completely unlimited. If knowledge is limitless and if knowledge is supposed to be ubiquitous, just like music, for example, it’s everywhere, right? Then truly, I’m supposed to know not only for my country, but I’m supposed to know my continent and know my global community.

Until I’m educated until I know, and my knowledge is applicable not only in my country but the global community. That’s when I’ll truly see education as credible. So that’s what really education is, it allows me to determine myself and my purpose, and my future. And not only that, it gives me access not only to my country but the entire global community.

PvZ That’s very powerful and very true. All right, so the last question, and this is a question we like to ask all guests, so take the time you need to answer it. That is essentially, if you hold any unpopular opinions, now’s the time to spill them. But the single question is, what do you believe about the education system, or about education as a whole, that most people may disagree with?

FA: Whoo! So I heard not so long ago, hmm, you see, I’m going to stop. This what I do, I literally have internal conversations with myself so that I can carry everything out. I can’t say anything’s unpopular, so to say. I have to really think about that. If something that is unpopular, many people don’t believe? Sure, I believe we should scrap the whole damn thing and start all over again. But that’s just me.

PvZ That’s a perfectly valid answer. So, look, some people believe that educators are going to be replaced by technology. Some people believe that technology has no role in the classroom. Some people believe the education system isn’t broken. And that’s actually proven to be an unpopular opinion because the popular opinion really is that the education system is broken.

FA: [laugh] So I don’t believe in that school of thought that the education system is actually not. You know, I believe that we need to, I don’t know if it’s an unpopular opinion, but I have a whole belief around educators themselves. I truly believe that educators in this country need to be educated.

I think that the way in which we’re educating is a significant portion. I mean, as I said, there are private institutions that get to benefit from people that are aligned, again, to not only to a global agenda. So that allows them to always have the leg up when it comes to the way they educate.

But especially in our public schools, especially our township schools, especially our rural schools, we need to educate the educator. Because you’ll find in a classroom that a teacher is supposed to teach on computers, and they don’t know what it is all about. Or they’re supposed to give a lesson on 4IR, but they don’t even know the true definition of 4IR.

I’ve had the privilege of being able to speak to a few teachers and in fact, I was in the SETA conference once. And they were speaking about how even when they conduct training for teachers, you’d find the teachers themselves don’t even know what 4IR is, or how to even implement 4IR.

And I imagine the educator going to teach the very same young people that we’re trying to liberate. What are you going to educate them on? So I truly believe that if this country needs to move forward, we need to be able to educate the educator, because what are they teaching our children?

You spend eight hours in their classroom, or eight hours away from your parents, eight hours away from home. What are you taking and consuming for the eight hours? And if the educators are not educated, what are they giving you for eight hours? So if we would also address the education system, we need educators that are educated.

Never mind that. How about as a theory, how about if we’re going to teach entrepreneurship? We don’t learn entrepreneurship from a textbook. We learn entrepreneurship from people that have been successful entrepreneurs. I always think of the saying that the people that don’t do, teach? How are you going to teach if you don’t know what it’s like to be done?

You can’t teach on something that you don’t know, that you’ve never tried. You’re going to give me a theoretical basis of something. You can’t teach about being a successful entrepreneur, and I know this because I studied business economics and all of that. You can’t teach me about being a great entrepreneur if you’ve never even opened a business in your life.

If you don’t even have a private company, and yet you can teach me about how to be a successful entrepreneur? What are you going to teach me? You’re going to teach me a textbook. So I think we need to be able to educate the educators. And I think that that’s what we’re not getting it right.

I remember I had an event for kids that are in primary school, because I was made aware that a lot of the kids are studying from a textbook about animals, like zoos, and it’s a typical thing, what is in a zoo? The animals that are in a zoo. And when I had a conversation with the Basic Education Department, they said to me, a lot of the children have never even been to the zoo in their lives. They’ve never seen an elephant.

How are you going to teach about an elephant if you’ve never seen one? How are the kids going to internalise that if they don’t even know what an elephant looks like? So I did something very practical, very simple, but I had to take the kids to the zoo. Because if you’re going to have kids that are going to pass, kids that are going to be ahead, they have to see what you’re talking about. And in order for us to do so, we need to be able to educate the educator and get more practical. We need more practicality in our teaching.

Our teaching is so theoretical that people don’t even understand the concept. Still to this day, I’m sure I use it. I’m sure I use trigonometry somewhere in my life. But I would have loved for it to be practical so that I understood it. The only reason I understand acute angles is because I’ve had to take it a step further. But what about somebody who has never come into contact with what being or having an acute angle looks like? Does it matter to them?

So teaching needs to be more practical. It needs to be more practical. It needs to be more agile, it needs to be more diverse. And I really think that’s how we going to make it right. But first, let’s start off with educating the educators so that our educators teach children something that is worthwhile for the eight hours that they are in school.

PvZ Amazing. Faith, thank you so much for your time.

FA: And I’m not that unpopular?

PvZ [laugh] No, that’s been a great answer and it’s been so interesting speaking to you.

The Future Minds podcast is brought to you by Smartick. Smartick is an award-winning, intelligent, online mathematics and coding program for kids ages 4 – 14. Powered by sophisticated, adaptive AI, Smartick teaches kids math and coding from the comfort of home in as little as 15 minutes per day. For more information, visit smartick.com or download the app on tablet or iPad today.

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Sabrina graduated from the AAA School of Advertising with a B.A. in Integrated Marketing Communications and prior to joining the Smartick Team she started her own digital marketing agency in 2014.
She is the founder and producer of Smartick's podcast called Future Minds with Phil.
In her spare time, Sabrina enjoys horseback riding, reading, and going to the gym. She also loves to travel!
Sabrina Jansen van Vuuren

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